What is Cheese?
Cheese is a fermented dairy product of milk curdled by a coagulant or by lactic acid bacteria(LAB) along with the microbial conversion of the lactose in the milk into lactic acid.
The cheese produced at the end of the cheese-making process is rich in proteins and fat from the milk obtained from mostly ruminant animals such as goat, cows, buffalo or sheep.
The earliest factual evidence of cheesemaking found in Switzerland, Croatia and Poland shows that the process of making cheese dates back to about eight thousand years ago.
Cheese is now produced in different range of forms, textures and flavours by coagulation of the milk protein casein by strain of bacteria LAB.
The nutrition and taste of cheese depend on the milk source and how the cheese is made.
Cheese can be broadly categorized into two groups; acid or rennet cheese, and natural or processed cheese.
What is acid cheese?
This is the type of cheese made by adding acid to the milk to cause the proteins to coagulate.
Examples of acid cheese are cream cheese, fresco cheese etc.
What is rennet cheese?
In this type of cheese, an enzyme called Rennet, in addition to the starter cultures, are used to coagulate the milk. Examples of Rennet cheeses are Cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese etc.
What is “natural” cheese?
The term “natural cheese” is used in the cheese industry to refer to the type of cheese made directly from milk.
Examples of natural cheese and brands are unripened (e. g., cottage cheese, cream cheese), soft (e.g Camembert), semi-hard (e. g., Brick, Muenster, Roquefort, Stilton), hard (e. g., Colby, Cheddar), blue veined (e. g., Blue), cooked hard cheeses (e. g. Parmesan), and pasta filata
What is processed cheese?
Process cheese is the type of cheese made using original natural cheese fortified with other ingredients and same type of cheese at different stages of ripeness then blended and cooked together to change the texture, melting properties and ultimately increase shelf life.
A popular example of processed cheese is American cheese.
What is cheese made of?
In the industrial making of cheese, raw milk is poured into large tanks, a “starter culture” of bacteria is added to the milk to convert the lactose into lactic acid. An enzyme called rennet is added to curdle the milk.
Cheese is a made up of calcium, fat, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. It also contains high amounts of vitamins A and B-12, vitamin K-2, zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin.
Cheese made from milk obtained from ruminant animals fed only on healthy grass is regarded has being the highest in nutrients composition .
Why cheese is bad for you?
Though cheese is rich in protein, calcium and other valuable nutrients it is still considered high in calories, saturated fat and salt.
This means if you eat too much cheese, it is likely to give you high calories which could make you obese, lead to high “bad cholesterol” LDL and high blood pressure arising from too much sodium in the blood, increasing your risk of having cardiovascular diseases.
How much cheese to eat daily
It actually depends on your individual body need for as long as the quantity you eat does not pose any risk to your health.
However, if you are not at risk of cardiovascular diseases based on eating too much cheese, use the recoomendation of the American Heart Association(AHA) of 1.5 ounces of cheese per day.
What are the types of cheese?
Fresh cheese (No rind)
Aged fresh cheese (wrinkled white to grey-blue rind)
Sift white rind(White Fuzzy Rind)
Semi soft(Fine to thick grey-brown rind or orange & sticky)
Hard (crusty, grey often polished, waxed or oiled)
Blue(Gritty, rough, sometimes sticky rind)
Flavour added(there are various flavours especially those flavoured with aromatic herbs).
Which country is famous for cheese?
Switzerland, where some of the oldest cheese samples in recorded human history were discovered, is still in the business of cheese making. Other countries where cheese is popular are Holland, France and Italy.
What are the benefits of cheese?
Cheese is very rich in nutrients and on this basis, it has the following health benefits.
1.Cheese is good for bone development and growth.
During the development of foetus, calcium is required for forming bones and it is so vital that during pregnancy, you must take adequate calcium meet up with your own demand and that of the foetus to prevent the pregnant mum losing her bone’s calcium to her foetus.
In growing children and teens, their bones are yet to be fully formed and bones that lengthens and eventually fuse at full adolescent need adequate calcium supply which cheeses eating will provide.
In adults, the integrity of the bone can be destroyed by osteoporosis which arises when holes exist in the bones. The risk of osteoporosis increases as we age and as side effect of some medications like Prednisolone used in health conditions like inflammation.
Consumption of cheese, especially those Cheese products fortified with Vitamin D (helps the body absorb calcium in soluble forms) will help prevent osteoporosis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum daily intake of 400- 500 mg of calcium per day for people over 50 and at risk for fractures and eating cheese daily can help you meet your daily requirement of calcium to keep your bones strong and healthy.
2.Cheese supplies Calcium needed in Blood clotting.
During injuries, blood clot to seal the exposed part to prevent further loss of your blood.
Calcium is very essential in the process of blood clotting. It is so important that in dialysis machine and blood banks, chemicals called chelating agents are added to prevent blood clotting by inhibiting the calcium ions.
When you eat cheese, your body has adequate calcium for this process without depleting the calcium serving elsewhere in your body.
3.Cheese helps you develop and maintain strong and healthy teeth.
Cheeses contains calcium which supplies the body with the major component of the white part of the teeth, enamel. Cheese eating has also been reported to provide a pH at which the teeth is better protected from acid which causes tooth decay.
4. Cheese is rich in Protein.
Cheese eating daily can supply your daily amounts of protein for all the essential and critical functions protein plays in your body like growth(especially in growing children), repair of injuries , making important enzymes,muscles etc and eventually gives you appropriatr muscle content, healthier skin and hair.
About 2-3 servings of protein-rich foods (such as cheese, fish) per day is adequate for most adults to meet the their daily requirement for protein.
5. Cheese is High in Vitamin B12
Cheese is a good natural source of the water soluble Vitamin B-12 ,Cobalamin which plays essential role in the production of red blood cells, protein, and DNA.
When present in your body in adequate amount, it helps promote many mental health functions and prevent nutritional deficiency diseases such as known as Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia, or pernicious anemia.
6.Cheese helps lower risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.
Preeclampsia(pregnancy induced form of hypertension) is responsible for some deaths of both pregnant mother and foetus.
However, studies have shown, that when pregnant women receive calcium supplements of between 1.5-2g per day, this can greatly reduce a woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia .
Properly prepared cheese (especially cooked soft cheese) is good and nutritional to a pregnant woman and her foetus.
Soft cheese should be properly cooked to kill any presence of Listeria monocytogenes,a bacteria which has implicated soft cheeses in listeriosis outbreaks worldwide which can harm a pregnant woman and her foetus.
Cheese when consumed daily in pregnancy provides the pregnant woman calcium in her diet along with many other essential macro and micro nutrients required for healthy pregnancy, like protein and some vitamins.
How is cheese made?
Cheese can be made from pasteurized or raw milk.
The type of coagulant used depends on the type of cheese desired. For acid cheeses, an acid source such as acetic acid (the acid in vinegar) or gluconodelta-lactone (a mild food acid) is used. For rennet cheese, calf rennet or, more commonly, a rennet produced through microbial process is used.
Calcium chloride may be added to improve the coagulation properties of the milk.Starter cultures are used early in the cheese making process to reduce the pH(make more acidic) before Rennet is added.
Microbial cultures of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) use their primary source of energy,the lactose in milk, to produce lactic acid, their primary metabolic product. There are now different range of bacterial cultures and each gives distinct flavor and texture to cheese.
Flavorings may be added to the cheese. Examples of ingredients used to flavour cheese are aromatic herbs, spices, hot and sweet pepper.
The chart below gives you an idea of general outline of cheese making steps.
What are the General Cheese Processing Steps?
Inoculate with Starter & Non-Starter Bacteria and Ripen
Add Rennet and Form Curd
Cut Curd and Heat
Dry Salt or Brine
Form Cheese into Blocks
Store and Age
Examples of brands of cheese
Blue (Bleu) Cheeses
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