Hundreds of years and thousands of experiments! Would you believe when I say there are not tens, not hundreds, but over 2000 varieties of cheese that have found their way into existence, in the world of cheese! From the gooey viscous physics of melted mozzarella to the microbial mayhem behind your favourite fermented flavours, science has impregnated the art of cheese making.
What started as an accidental discovery has moved around little by little, block by block from farmhouse to industries. Cheesemaking, which was essentially a farmhouse industry until the beginning of the 18th Century started to lean towards the mechanized industries with the scientific findings in cheese processing and ripening.
This goes back to the early 1900s. It was Chicago. And the sun was shining bright over J L Kraft, a cheese seller trying to sell his cheeses around in his horse wagon. But the cheddar cheese he was carrying would often spoil half-way. It eventually dawned on him to extend the shelf-life by arresting the ripening process. In simple terms, he pasteurized the cheese which would allow him to carry it for a much longer time without the trepidation of spoiling. And there it was, one of the historical embarks upon the course of processed cheese.
Not just this, Switzerland started making fondues around the same timeline, by adding wine to a particular variety of cheese. Often the fondue was seen as a gourmet aphrodisiac. Like these, the world started to experiment with cheeses and Voila! The processing of cheese has begun.
Protein? Check. Calcium? Check. Minerals and vitamins? Check. Thanks to these health benefits cheese has become an inseparable part of everyday food. As cheese started to win the world over with its enthralling taste, the profit-making began and soon it blossomed into a lucrative business.
Now, with science and technology-infused industry of cheese, you can accelerate the ripening of cheese to achieve the desired flavour and texture in a jiffy. With the development of automation, there is now a machine for everything. Continuous cheddaring machine, advanced cutting and cooking vats, pressing machines, stretchers. You name it and the cheese industry has got it! Also, mechanization has reached great heights that it can produce several tons of cheese in a limited time frame. And you know what? All these can be produced without the touch of human hands.
However, it is an age-old question of whether we are losing the art of cheese making under the shadows of science and technology. Impatient, we are missing out on the wonders of the artisanal and handcrafted cheese made with love and traditional techniques. Imagine, the cheese being kept for ripening for months and even years to develop the intricacies of the flavour, just like the way nature intended. But maybe you can avail both in one form. A little bit of science and a great deal of nature. This concoction can make the magic happen!