Cheese is one of those foods that are widespread throughout the whole world. From mozzarella to queso fresco and panquehue, cheese is loved and enjoyed by many. You add it to your pasta, you eat it with your sandwiches, and some even dip it into their hot chocolate.
But was it always this popular? With a product that has been around for as long as you can remember, there are things you probably didn’t know about its history.
An unclear origin
There is much debate surrounding the origin of cheese, making it one of the biggest culinary and historical mysteries. This is because it is believed to date back as far as 8000 BC and its production “predates recorded history.” The place of origin is also a mystery, as it could have been discovered anywhere in Europe, Central Asia, or the Middle East.
Cheese was most likely discovered by accident
On a similar note, odds are that this food was discovered by accident in an attempt to help preserve milk. Cheese is believed to be related to the “domestication of milk-producing animals” such as sheep, as stated by the National Historic Cheesemaking Center.
In order to preserve and store milk, containers were made out of the stomachs of animals. Coincidentally, the guts of these animals contain an enzyme called rennet, which causes the milk to coagulate and turn into curds.
Mass production of cheese started in Switzerland
While we may not know precisely where the cheese originated and how it was discovered, history tells us that mass production began in 1815. The first factory was opened in Switzerland in 1815, and although it was not met with much success, it paved the way for mass production in other countries.
As a result, Jesse Williams, a dairy farmer from Rome, New York, started mass-producing cheese in 1851. It became so popular that he is credited as the ‘Father of Cheese.’