One Arabian merchant set off, taking milk with him.
“Cheese may disappoint.
It can be faded, it can be primitive, it can be too subtle.
But nevertheless it always remains raw, — by jumping of milk into immortality. ” Clifton Fadimen, American writer
There are many legends about the origin of cheese. According to one of them, more than four thousand years ago, one Arabian merchant set off on a long journey, taking with him food and milk in a vessel traditional for nomads — dried sheep’s stomach.
When it got dark, he stopped for the night and at bedtime he decided to sip milk, but he found some white clot and whey in a sheep’s stomach. Puzzled, but hungry, the merchant still tried this piece and was amazed by its pleasant taste.
Being a simple and unsophisticated man, he shared his discovery with neighbors, and soon the method of making cheese (and that very “clot”) became known to many nomadic tribes.
The legend of the lucky Arabian merchant for decades has not left the pages of popular publications about cheese. Why?
It is a plausible version. Most of the ancient nomadic peoples overtook the herds in a rather hot climate, and they had to pour out the curdled milk, cursing the gods, who had not taught people at least some way to preserve it.
I found this method unexpectedly, and it was cheese.
It turned out that the souring process can be regulated, and from sour milk and cottage cheese to cheese — just one step, many influenced the history of civilization.
Polifem Cyclops in Homer’s Odyssey prepared cheese like this: "White took half of the milk, instantly fermented, immediately squeezed and folded into woven baskets".
The first way to classify cheese is by type of milk. Homer Cyclops used sheep, but for this purpose is perfectly suited and cow, and Izok. For us, the most familiar are cheeses from cow’s milk, while sheep’s (brebis, “sheep”) and goat’s (chevre, “goat”) are rare.
Why? Yes, because goats and sheep milk provide much less than cows, and it is possible to organize the production of cheese from it only by small farms with a long tradition of cheese making.
But the milk of goats and sheep is much fatter and more caloric than cow’s, it has twice as much casein — so the cheeses from it are dense, sharp in taste, with a rich bouquet and a long aftertaste. For example, the French goat rocamadur, Sabbath and pikodon. “Heads” of sheep and goat cheeses are most often small (there is little milk), although their shape is much more diverse …
And, finally, in Italy, some cheeses, such as mozzarella, are made from buffalo milk, which is close in composition to cow’s, but high-fat.
For us, they are also a rarity.
What kind of milk is made of cheese, affects its taste and flavor (goat, for example, the most «smelly»), on the hardness, shape of the head and method of use.
Without going into details, we immediately make a reservation: real cheese can only be obtained from milk containing casein, only in this case it becomes thick when souring — and this is necessary for the production of cheese. Milk of other animals (mares, deer and donkeys) contains albumin, and therefore remains liquid when souring and is more suitable, for example, for the production of kumys or dry curd …
Milk cheese must first be leavened.
It was in the manner of the ferment that foreign cheese differed from our cottage cheese.
In the Russian tradition, the “natural” method was used — the milk was rolled up. "self"naturally from airborne lactic acid bacteria. Nomads for this purpose often used a special rennet ferment (or "renet") — an enzyme that produces mucous membrane of abomasum, the fourth section of the stomach sucking calves, lambs and kids. This enzyme is necessary for the assimilation of mother’s milk — it helps to transform casein contained in milk into a solid substance and make it digestible.
That is why milk from that legendary Arabian merchant who poured it into “dried sheep’s stomach” so quickly squashed milk.
Thus, in some classifications (including the Russian one), there was a division of cheese into fermented milk and rennet (it should be noted that there are also vegetable means of coagulating milk, such as fig juice and leavening grass).
Juice of figs usually ferment milk for fresh and some soft cheeses, grass — for some hard. As early as the 19th century, scientists found out that the cheese clot resulting from the action of rennet ferment and the curd obtained by souring milk are different substances with different chemical and physical properties.
Rennet is elastic, does not smear, does not soften in water, contains more salts than cottage cheese and consists of insoluble protein compounds.
"Immediately pressed. " This process is required in the production of any cheese.
What does it mean? After receiving the cheese clot, the whey must be removed.
The French cheese classification is based on the «spin» method.
So, in order.
Baskets, where pressed milk was kept for some time (today they are perforated forms), the ancient Greeks called formos, and the Romans called forma. For this reason, today Italians call formaggio cheese, and the French fromage (in old French formage).
Another Latin name for such a “cheese” basket, as well as cheese itself, is caseus (curiously, the same word was used by the Romans in the sense of “sweetheart”).
From the Latin caseus came another Italian name for cheese — cacio, as well as German Kase, Spanish queso and even English cheese.
Slavs knew and widely consumed milk and cottage cheese, which was called «cheese.»
And the word “cheese” itself indicates that the Russian tradition was dominated by the natural way of cooking it — natural milk coagulation with the help of airborne bacteria, and later — the old yeast and getting raw (“cheese”) cottage cheese without any pickling, drying and aging.
It was the cheese in Russia that was the only kind of “cheese” — it was eaten almost daily, and the usual raw yogurt served as the raw material, the pot with which was put in a warm oven for several hours, removed, drained the contents into a linen cone-shaped bag, the serum was pressed and drained, and the bag with cheese put under the press.
However, the product prepared in this way could not be stored for a long time. So that he did not disappear, they came up with a rather original way of canning it. The finished (from under the press) cottage cheese was again placed for several hours in the oven, then again under the press, and so on — twice.
When it became completely dry, it was tightly placed in clay pots and poured with melted butter on top.
In the cellar, such a «canned food» could be stored for months, it even took with it a long journey.
But real cheese (in its correct sense) never was in Russia in honor — fresh milk from one cow in the house of a poor peasant barely enough for children, as well as butter and sour cream, sour went to cottage cheese.
Therefore, the production of real cheeses in Russia began only after Tsar Peter appreciated the Dutch cheeses and brought foreign master cheesemakers to Russia.
The word cottage cheese is Slavic: in Europe and America, a product similar to it is called “cottage.