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18 facts you never knew about cheese

Have you often lain awake at night, wishing that you knew more about cheese? Fear not! Your prayers have been answered; below you will find 18 of the most delicious cheese facts, all taken from Michael Tunick’s recent book The Science of Cheese. Prepare to be the envy of everyone at your next dinner party – just try not to be too “cheesy”. Bon Appétit!

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  1. The world’s most expensive cheese comes from a Swedish moose farm and the cheese sells for £300 a pound.
  2. You can’t make cheese entirely from human milk since it won’t coagulate properly.
  3. The largest cheese ever made was a Cheddar weighing 56,850 pounds, in 1989.
  4. 97% of British people are ‘Lactose Persistent’ and are the most lactose tolerant population in the world.
  5. Genuine Flor de Guia cheese must be made in the Canary Islands by women, otherwise it won’t be considered the genuine article.
  6. The expression “cheesy” used to mean first-rate, but sarcastic use of the word has caused it to mean the opposite.
  7. The bacteria used for smear-ripened cheeses are closely related to the bacteria that generates sweaty feet odour.
  8. Cheese as we know it today was (accidentally) discovered over 8,000 years ago when milk separated into curds and whey.
  9. Edam was used as cannonballs (and killed two soldiers) in a battle between Montevideo and Buenos Aires in 1841.
  10. An odour found in tomcat urine is considered desirable in Cheddar.
  11. Each American adult consumes an average of 33 pounds of cheese each year.
  12. Descriptions of the defects in the eyes of Swiss-type cheeses include the terms “blowhole” and “frogmouth”.
  13. There are over 1,265,000 dairy cows in the US state of Wisconsin alone.
  14. A northern Italian bank uses Parmesan as loan collateral.
  15. Sardinia’s Cazu Marzu, which means ‘rotten cheese’, is safe to eat only if it contains live maggots.
  16. Cheese consumption in the United Kingdom is at a measly 24.0 pounds per capita.
  17. This cheese consumption isn’t even close to Greece who lead the way with a whopping 68.4 pounds per capita.
  18. Dmitri Mendeleev was a consultant on artisanal cheese production while he was also inventing the periodic table of the elements.

All of these cheese facts are taken from The Science of Cheese. The Science of Cheese is an engaging tour of the science and history of cheese, and the only book to discuss the actual chemistry, biology, and physics of cheese making. Author Michael Tunick is a research chemist with the Dairy and Functional Foods Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

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Image credit: Weichkaese Soft Cheese. Photo by Eva K. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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