Its production predates written history, and it is not known where cheese was originally made, though the earliest evidence of cheese making can be found in modern-day central Europe.
What we do know is that when an animal's milk was carried in vessels made of the stomachs of ruminants such as cows, goats, or sheep it would start to curdle due to a magical enzyme known as rennet.
Rennet is the enzyme that splits milk into liquids and solids. This is to aid digestion, but luckily it has another really useful quality: It helps us make cheese.
There are many steps to making cheese, but rennet is added in the second one. Once bacteria has been added to the milk, which helps define the flavor of the cheese, rennet is added to split the liquids and solids and we’re left with cheese curds.
Now, there seems to be no limit to how these curds are handled, and I’m oversimplifying the process a bit, but you now have the beginning of everything from sharp cheddar to goat cheese to limburger, which seems to be more famous for its odor than anything else.
I’m no cheese monger, and I myself tend to get stuck in a rut buying the same cheeses over and over again, but the world of cheese is so vast that it really is something every food lover should dive into.
So the next time you’re at the grocery store, I challenge you to walk through the cheese aisle and pick up something you’ve never had before and give it a try. You may be surprised at what you find.
On the latest Cooking with Fire podcast, Josh Cary and Chef Tom Jackson share how to make Chèvre Stuffed Portabello on the grill--inspired by the 2007 animated film Ratatouille.
- 2 (5” diameter) Portobello mushrooms
- 4 oz chevre goat cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat your charcoal grill for high heat (400ºF) indirect grilling.
- Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Scoop out the gills with a spoon, hollowing out a bowl shape. Rub a thin layer of olive oil on the surface of the mushroom. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix the cheese, garlic, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Divide in half and place each half in the mushroom “bowl.”
- Place the mushrooms on the grill. Grill for about 20 minutes, until the mushroom is softened.