Teich's Tech Tidbit of the Week
March 6, 2000
The Technology of Cheese

A slice of swiss cheese

Tidbit Archive

Cheese technology?  For anyone outside the world of food science and technology this might sound like the title of a Monty Python skit.  And indeed, cheese seems to be the subject of much weirdness and humor.  But, if you stop to think about it, the manufacture of cheese is a technological endeavor, just like so much else in our technological society. 

Cheese may be the oldest processed food known to humans.  According to a recent article by Steve Ritter in Chemical and Engineering News (Feb. 7, 2000), Americans eat 28 pounds (12.7 kilos) of cheese a year -- probably much of it on pizza and nachos.  Cheese is made from milk, cultured with bacteria, and treated with an enzyme.  Differences in the biochemical processing of this basic product yield results ranging from cheddar to brie that developed over thousands of years. 

While there are hundreds of varieties of cheese, much of what can be found in the typical U.S. supermarket is not actually cheese in the traditional sense, but one of many related, newer products, such as: pasteurized process cheese (made from one or more cheeses with cream added, blended and heated with an emulsifier); pasteurized process cheese food (a variation with dry milk or other additions and less cheese); pasteurized process cheese spread (a variation that may contain a sweetener and stabilizing agent); pasteurized process cheese product (process cheese that fails to meet moisture and/or milkfat standards), or imitation cheese (made from vegetable oil) -- all of which are carefully defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Kraft's Cheez Whiz, by the way, is "pasteurized process cheese sauce," for which there is no FDA definition.

Links:

Cheese.com -- all about cheese, including a data base with information on 652 varieties of cheese.

Cheese Reporter -- the latest news from the world of cheese, plus wholesale cheese prices, new books and videos, and more.

French cheese -- with information on the manufacture and history of French cheese, a map showing various cheeses by region, and a section on how to choose cheese and match it with wine.

Cheesemaking in Scotland - A History.  Excerpts from the book by John H. Smith, presented by the Scottish Dairy Association.

The British Cheese Board -- "flying the flag for British cheese."  It's not just cheddar.

The International Cheese Technology Exposition.  It was held in Madison, WI, in April 1998, but the program suggests the kinds of developments that are taking place in cheesemaking.

Ideal Cheese Shop in New York City.  Rated #1 overall among New York cheese shops, according to Zagat's survey.  Site includes information on a large variety of cheeses, recipes, and on-line ordering.

The Utterly Unique Cheese Company in Oshkosh, WI, offers cheddar in the shape of cows, footballs, Green Bay Packer players, and the State of Wisconsin among its products.

The Ring of Cheese -- 27 connected sites featuring weirdness and cheese humor as well as more serious cheese stuff.  See number 11, The God of Cheese.

Cheese Wars, "the world's leading dairy-based Internet Cartoon" (it says).  Perhaps a derivative of the 1980 cult film "The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes."

String Cheese Incident.  A band from Boulder, Colorado.
 

Technology and the Future 8th edition cover

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