Cheese is one of the great achievements of humankind! It all began as a simple way of concentrating and preserving the bounty of the milking season. Then the attentiveness and ingenuity of its makers slowly transformed it into something more than mere physical nourishment: into an intense, concentrated expression of pastures and animals, of microbes and time!THE EVOLUTION OF CHEESECheese is a modiﬁed form of milk that is more concentrated, more durable, and more ﬂavorful food than milk is.Its long evolution probably began around 5,000 years ago, when people in warm central Asia and the Middle East learned that they could preserve naturally soured, curdled milk by draining off the watery whey and salting the concentrated curds.These ﬁrst cheeses may have resembled modern brine-cured feta, which is still used in the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans.Cheeses of Repute:The art of cheesemaking had progressed enough by late medieval times to inspire connoisseurship.French: The French court received shipments from Brie, Roquefort, Comté, Maroilles, and Geromé (Münster).Italian & Swiss : Cheeses made near Parma in Italy and near Appenzell in Switzerland were renowned throughout Europe for freshness of texture and taste!British : Cheshire cheese was famous by Elizabethan times, and Cheddar and Stilton by the 18th century were world famous.INGREDIENTSThe three principal ingredients of cheese are milk, rennet enzymes that curdle the milk, and microbes that acidify and ﬂavor the milk. Each strongly inﬂuences the character and quality of the ﬁnal cheese.A)Milks: Milk is concentrated ﬁve- to tenfold by the removal of water; so the basic character of the milk deﬁnes the basic character of the cheese. Milk character is in turn determined by the kind of animal that produces it, what the animal eats, the microbes that inhabit the milk, and whether it is raw or pasteurized.B)The Key Catalyst: Rennet The making and use of rennet was the ﬁrst venture in biotechnology. Rennet (Starter) is a special catalyst which is primarily used for curdling milk with its proteins intact, rather than an acid which destroys the protein. This results in a more elastic curd with an enhanced flavor profile.C) Microbes: Cheeses are decomposed and recomposed by a colorful cast of microbes, perhaps a just a handful in most modern cheeses..First there are the lactic acid bacteria that initially acidify the milk, persist in the drained curd, and generate much of the ﬂavor these are called starter bacteria. There are two broad groups of starters: the moderate temperature lactococci that are also used to make cultured creams, and the heat-loving lactobacilli and streptococci that are also used to make yogurt.MAKING CHEESEFirst stage :lactic acid bacteria convert milk sugar into lactic acid.Second stage: while the acidifying bacteria are still at work, the cheesemaker adds the rennet, curdles the casein proteins, and drains the watery whey from the concentrated curds.Last stage: ripening, a host of enzymes work together to create the unique texture and ﬂavor of each cheese.HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE?With the variety of cheeses available at your local supermarket, we’re spoiled for choice..So how do you buy a cheese as per your taste?Cut To Order: Whenever possible, buy portions that are cut while you watch. Precut portions may be days or weeks old. Avoid light exposed cheeses as they may turn rancid quickly. Buy blocks and never grated as they loose aroma and flavor quickly..Find a Specialist: The way is to buy from a specialist who loves and knows them!Here are some local Indian artisanal cheese makers from around India, if you can find some of their products, buy them!STORAGELoose Wrapping : Tight wrapping in plastic ﬁlm is inadvisable because, trapped moisture and restricted oxygen encourages the growth of bacteria and molds, not always the cheese’s own.strong volatiles such as ammonia that would otherwise diffuse from the cheese instead impregnate it; and trace volatile compounds and plastic chemicals migrate into the cheese.Cool, Not Cold : If cheese must be kept for more than a few days, it’s usually easiest to refrigerate it. Unfortunately, the ideal conditions for holding cheese—a humid 55–60ºF/12–15ºC, simply a continuation of its ripening conditions—is warmer than most refrigerators, and cooler and moister than most rooms.They should never be served direct from the refrigerator, Room temperature is best!COOKING !When used as an ingredient in cooking it can add both flavor and texture: either unctuousness or crispness!Cheese Melting: What is going on when we melt a piece of cheese?Essentially two things. First, at around 90ºF, the milk fat melts, which makes the cheese more supple, and often brings little beads of melted fat to the surface. Then at higher temperatures—around 130ºF/55ºC for soft cheeses, 150ºF/65ºC for Cheddar and Swiss types, 180ºF/82ºC for Parmesan and Pecorino, which are hard cheeses.Non-melting Cheeses There are several kinds of cheese that do not melt on heating: they simply get drier and stiffer. These include Indian paneer and Latin queso blanco, Italian ricotta.Textures of Cheeses:Stringy cheeses are intentionally ﬁbrous mozzarella, elastic Emmental, and Cheddar. Emmental’s alpine cousin Gruyère is preferred in fondues because it’s moister, fatter, and saltier.Crumbly cheeses like Cheshire and Leicester, and moist ones like Caerphilly, Colby, and Jack are preferred for making such melted preparations as stewed cheese, and grilled-cheese sandwiches.Italian grating cheeses Parmesan, grana Padano, the pecorinos— readily disperse in sauces, soups, risottos, polenta, and pasta dishes.Cheese Fondue:In the Swiss Alps, where for centuries cheese has been melted in a communal pot at the table and kept hot over a ﬂame for dipping bread, it’s well known that wine can help keep melted cheese from getting stringy or seizing up. The ingredients in a classic fondue, in fact, are just alpine cheese—usually Gruyère—a tart white wine, some kirsch, and sometimes (for added insurance) starch.Check our recipe of Cheese Fondue here!Toppings, Gratins:When a thin layer of cheese is heated in the oven or under a broiler—on a gratin, a pizza, or bruschetta—the intense heat can quickly melt and creates a layer of stringy goodness.. Sometimes extra browned cheese on gratins are quite delicious: the religieuse at the bottom of the fondue pot crowns the meal!Behind every cheese there is a pasture of a different green under a different sky!—Italo Calvino, 1983The diversity and use of this wonderful food is truly outstanding..Remember to enjoy your cheese, responsibly!Say Cheeese!