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food known from ancient times and consisting of the curd of milk separated from the whey.

The Production of Cheese

The milk of various animals has been used in the making of cheese: the milk of mares and goats by the ancient Greeks, camel's milk by the early Egyptians, and reindeer's milk by the Laplanders. Sheep's milk and goat's milk are still widely used, but cow's milk is most common. The milk may be raw or pasteurized, sweet or sour, whole, skimmed, or with cream added.

Cheese, especially in the United States, is increasingly made in the factory by application of the principles of microbiology and chemistry. The chief milk protein, caseincasein
, well-defined group of proteins found in milk, constituting about 80% of the proteins in cow's milk, but only 40% in human milk. Casein is a remarkably efficient nutrient, supplying not only essential amino acids, but also some carbohydrates and the inorganic elements
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, is coagulated by the enzyme action of rennetrennet,
substance containing rennin, an enzyme having the property of clotting, or curdling, milk. It is used in the making of cheese and junket. Rennet is obtained from the stomachs of young mammals living on milk, especially from the inner lining of the fourth, or true,
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 or pepsin, by lactic acid produced by bacterial action, or by a combination of the two. The draining off of the whey (milk serum) is facilitated by heating, cutting, and pressing the curd. The yield of cheese is usually about 10 lb per 100 lb of milk and is higher for the soft cheeses, which retain more moisture. Wisconsin is the largest producer of cheese in the United States.

The byproduct whey consists of water, lactose, albumin, soluble minerals, fats, and proteins. Formerly wasted or used in livestock feeding, whey is now used for the preparation of milk sugar, lactic acid, glycerin, and alcohol, or is condensed and added to process cheese. It may be made into cheese such as the Scandinavian primost and mysost.

Kinds of Cheese

The numerous cheeses (often named for their place of origin) depend for their distinctive qualities on the kind and condition of the milk used, the processes of making, and the method and extent of curing. They may be divided into two classes, hard cheeses, which improve with age under suitable conditions, and soft cheeses, intended for immediate consumption. Very hard cheeses include Parmesan and Romano; among the hard cheeses are CheddarCheddar,
village, Somerset, SW England. It is chiefly a tourist center. Limestone is quarried, and strawberries are grown. Nearby Cheddar Gorge towers c.400 ft (120 m) high, with imposing limestone cliffs and numerous caves from which relics of prehistoric man have been
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, Edam, Emmental, Gouda, Gruyère, Provolone, and Swiss. The semisoft cheeses include brick, Gorgonzola, Limburger, Roquefort, Muenster, and Stilton; some of the soft cheeses are Brie, Camembert, cottage, Neufchâtel, and ricotta.

Microorganisms introduced, or permitted to develop, in cheese during the ripening process impart distinctive flavors and textures. Roquefort, Stilton, and Gorgonzola owe their bluish marbling to molds; Emmental and brick are ripened by bacteria that produce gas, which is entrapped in the curd and thus forms holes, a distinctive feature of what in the United States is known as Swiss-style cheese; Limburger attains a creamy consistency through bacteria-ripening. During the curing period the casein is broken down into a more digestible form by enzyme action. Cheese is valuable in the diet as a source of protein, fat, insoluble minerals (calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, and iron), and, when made from whole milk, vitamin A. Process cheese is a blend of young and ripened cheeses or of different varieties, ground, heated with water and up to 3% of emulsifying salts, and poured into molds, usually loaf-shaped. It is often homogenized and pasteurized. Certain cheeses, such as American Baby Swiss, have become popular because of heightened interest in healthful low-fat, low-salt foods. For the same reasons, goat cheeses such as Chèvre, Montrachet, and Bucheron, have grown in appeal to health food adherents and gourmets.


See E. Edelman and S. Grodnick, The Ideal Cheese Book (1986).



a food made from milk, containing easily digestible proteins (15–27 percent) and fats (20–32 percent), as well as minerals (for example, calcium and phosphorus) and vitamins A and B. The caloric value of 100 grams of high-grade cheese is 1,470–1,680 kilojoules (350–400 kilocalories). Commercially, cheeses are divided into hard, soft, brine-cured, and processed varieties. Hard cheeses are dense and elastic in consistency. Soft cheeses are spreadable and unctuous. Unlike the other varieties, brine-cured cheeses ripen in a saline solution.

Cheese may be curdled by rennet or lactic acid. Cheese is easily digestible and almost completely assimilable (95–97 percent); consequently, it is a very valuable food. There are approximately 700 varieties of cheese in the world, distinguished by chemical content, flavor, and texture. The Soviet dairy industry produces primarily rennet cheeses: large hard (Sovietskii, Shveitsarskii), large with a relatively high level of lactic acid (Russkii, cheddar), small hard (Gollandskii, Kostromskoi, Uglichskii, Iaroslavskii), semihard (sharp), soft (Medyn’, Roquefort, Dorogobuzhskii, Smolenskii, Russian Camembert), and brine-cured (Brynza, Suluguni, Chanakh, Tushinskii).

The most common variety of cheese curdled by lactic acid is green cheese. Cream cheese is curdled by both rennet and lactic acid, with cream added during manufacture. There are more than 50 varieties of processed cheese, produced by melting natural cheeses at a temperature of 75°–80°C with such emulsifying salts as phosphates and sodium citrate and with flavorings.


(food engineering)
A food produced from milk that has been clotted by acid or rennet to form a curd which is cut, shaped, pressed, and salted or brined.
Tube of spun yarn to be put on a warp beam for weaving.
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