How old is the oldest cheese?

Cheese. That gooey, savory goodness that makes everything better. But how old can cheese get? Have you ever wondered how long this creamy blessing has been a part of human history? Join me as we deep dive into the world of ancient cheeses and see just how far back we can trace its existence.

Down Memory Lane

We know that cheese has been around for centuries, even millennia. So, let’s start at the beginning—where it all began.

The Birth Of Cheese

According to archaeologists, evidence of cheesemaking dates back over 7,000 years ago in present-day Croatia [1]. Now if that doesn’t make you go “hmmm”, I don’t know what will! The key ingredient they used was sheep’s milk curds and then turned them into various forms including wheels or blocks (who knew?)!

Parmigiano Reggiano – A Cheese For Royalty

Fast forward several thousand years to Apennine Mountains where Parmigiano Reggiano gets its roots. People residing there use nourishing grass fed cows and skim their richly creamed milk into large copper containers introduced with calf rennet extract for coagulation process; forming hard thickened ‘cheese batter’ which were cut from circulation cloth formed on both sides by artisans who stamped a complete row with unique logos (Talk about fancy)!

Cheeses Across Time And Space

One thing is clear – Ancient Greeks also loved their fair share of cheesy goodness!

Greece: Home To Feta

Dating back to ancient Greece (~8th century B.C.), feta was referred to as “briny” and could last much longer than most other dairy-based ingredients before spoiling (Only if stored properly) [2]. Initially crafted from sheep’s milk (Various mixtures emerged later on), this white crumbly cheese is still loved today by many and has served as an inspiration for famous Greek salads (and Tiktok challenges).

Ilchester Cheese – A Thousand Year Old Treasure

Ilchester, a small coastal town on the southern coast of England was home to what may be the oldest cheese that we now know of. In 2003, they found remnants of what was marked “Cheddar” in an archeological dig nearby [3]. Experts estimated it backdated to around 1615 which means it could possibly have been aged up to one thousand years! (Mind-boggling)

Roquefort: Another Legend

The world-renowned sharp and pungent taste comes from its main ingredient- sheep’s milk. The name itself suggests its origin -Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon located at roughly ten miles east side of Millau, France which seems to have originated in ancient times (~77AD) when a young French shepherd forgot his curdled goat’s milk sandwich in the natural caves neighboring him only discovered three months later after he panicked; returning for search 4!

Modern Age Cheeses

Cheese never goes out style. As time flew by, different types emerged soaking local culture with global influence.

Gorgonzola – Keeping Italy Strong From Within

Italy had their own rendezvous when blue mold filled veins streak through soft crumbly texture blue cheeses such as ‘Gorgonzola’, forming under controlled conditions which fosteri growth rather than letting it run rampant like other older dairy products [5]!

Aging Like Fine Wine With Comté Cheese

Similar techniques are utilized while creating Comté; this hard Swiss-like cheese must be matured at least four months before ready dishing but some artisans wait longer because respecting age is mandatory (“Not my rules”)[6].

Conclusion

There you have it ladies and gentlemen! Cheese has been an integral part of our lives for centuries. From ancient Greece to modern Switzerland, the history of cheese-making is as diverse as it’s delicious.

So, if anyone ever asks you how old the oldest cheese is or what makes a good professional cheesemaker tick, be sure to tell them that we can trace the history back over 7,000 years in present-day Croatia! With that being said, let’s revel in this cheesy goodness together (100% already doing this)!

May your life be as smooth and flavorful like cheese aging nice within barrels

Bon appétit !

References

[1] Meadows J (2020) Study offers new insights into earliest cheesemaking from the sixth millennium BC Link

[2] Godecki P (2013) Greek Feta Cheese: The Tradition Is Still Going Strong [Link](https://greekreporter.com/2013/11/05/greek-feta-cheese-the-tradition-is-still-going-strong/

[3] BBC News Devon (2005), Old Cheddar Found In Archeology Dig  Link.

[4] Porteu-Delepierre O., La Boite à Pandore,n°90 septembre/octobre 1998 et décembre/janvier « Le roquefort : mythe ou légende ». Retrieved on 9th May 2021 from https://pbdepeaugres.free.fr/Histoires/Roquefort.htm.

[5] Laura Chenel Chevre | Recipes | Blueberry Hazelnut Salad with Melted Fresh Goat Cheese retrieved on 9th May 2021 from https://www.laurachenel.com/recipes/blueberry-hazelnut-salad-melted-fresh-goat-cheese.

[6] Borgotta L. (2019) Everything you need to know about comte cheese Link

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