Like so many fermented foods, the first cheese made by human beings was almost certainly a result of an accident. Some wandering nomad, as the legend goes, filled up a pouch made from the stomach of a calf or cow with a liter or two of fresh milk.After a few hours, the milk had turned into a solid-like material, and when our would-be cheese maker gave the container a bit of a shake, a watery-like fluid quickly sep arated from the creamy white curd.This moderately acidic, pleasant-tasting curd and whey mixture not only had a good flavor, but it also probably had a longer shelf-life than the fresh milk from which it was made.And despite the rather crude production scheme, the product made several thousands of years ago was not much different than many of the cheeses currently produced and consumed even today.
Just what happened to cause the milk to become transformed into a product with such a decidedly different appearance, texture, and flavor? To answer that question, it is first necessary to compare the composition of the starting material, milk, to that of the product, the finished cheese (Figure 5-4). Cow's milk consists of, in descending order (and in general concentrations), water (87%), lactose (5%), fat (3.5% to 4%), protein (3.2% to 3.4%), and minerals (<1%), mainly calcium. In contrast, a typical cheese, such as Cheddar cheese, contains 36% to 39% water, 30% to 32% fat, 26% to 28% protein, 2% to 2.5% salt, 1% mineral (mostly calcium), and <1% lactose.
The differences should be evident—cheese contains less water and more milk solids, in the
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