Say “Cheese”!

Today’s topic is cheese, a food that is more than 9,000 years old.  Because it can be stored without refrigeration, cheese is part of almost every culture’s cuisine.

Cheese is made by heating milk to separate the solid curds from the liquid whey.  The curds are then treated with acid and enzymes.  There are more than 2,000 different cheese varieties around the world.

More fascinating facts about cheese:

  • The world produces 200 million metric tons of cheese a year. This is more than coffee, tobacco, tea and cocoa beans combined.
  • Depending on whom you ask, the most consumed cheese worldwide is either mozzarella or gouda.
  • Greeks are the highest cheese consumers worldwide. The average Greek consumes more than 27 kg of cheese a year.
  • Cheese is the most stolen food item in the world. 4% of all cheese sold ends up stolen.
  • Cheese takes up about 1/10 the volume of the milk it was made from.
  • When cheese is digested, it breaks down into an opioid. Cheese can actually be addictive.

(Facts from IDFA, PositiveMed and KickassFacts)

All kinds of additives have been used to curdle cheese, including lemon juice, vinegar and even bacteria from human belly buttons.  (“Cheese” comes from the Latin word “caseus,” which means “to ferment or sour.”)

Irish scientists experimented with different microbiota on Cheddar cheese.  They discovered several “smear cultures” that can shorten the ripening time, as well as change the appearance and aroma of the cheese.  They used an Agilent sample prep workbench, septa and columns in their work.

Cheese and other dairy products help deliver probiotic bacteria to the human gut.  Turkish scientists researched methods to increase the numbers of probiotic bacteria in white-brined cheese without changing its sensory properties.  They used an Agilent gas chromatograph, FID detector and column in their work.

U.S. scientists analyzed different cheeses to compare antioxidants relevant to type 2 diabetes and related hypertension.  Their studies indicate that cranberry-enriched cheese has the highest potential for inhibition of enzymes linked to type 2 diabetes.  They used an Agilent HPLC, autosampler, diode array detector and Chemstation software in their work.

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