Cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Parmesan: the list of cheeses people enjoy around the world goes on and on.
January 20th, National Cheese Lover’s Day, is the day set aside to celebrate them all.
There’s plenty of cheese lovers across the country who are no doubt enjoying their favorite variety on everything from crackers to pizza. But how much do you really know about cheese? Here are some fun facts to chew on about the dairy-based fan favorite.
There are over 2,000 varieties of cheese in the world
It’s true. More than 2,000 types of the stuff exist in some form or another around the world. Britain alone acts as the birthplace over 700 varieties. For the curious, the most popular type of cheese in the U.S. is mozzarella, thanks in no small part of the amount of pizza the country consumes annually. Unsurprisingly, Wisconsin and California are the nation’s top producers of cheese overall.
A lot of milk for a little cheese
In order to make just one pound of cheese, you actually have to use 10 pounds of milk. This is because the process of cheese making removes most of the water — called whey — from the final product. The curds, or solids, are what eventually become the cheese we all know and love.
Mice don’t actually like cheese
Flying in the face of every cartoon ever made, the truth is mice aren’t terribly fond of cheese. A 2006 study found they actively avoided all cheese and dairy-based foods when presented with a wide variety of items to eat. They actually prefer grains, fruits, and processed foods with high sugar content.
Hay makes the holes in Swiss cheese
Scientists discovered in 2015 it was actually small flecks of hay in the milk used to make Swiss cheese which made its trademark holes. When farmers milked their cows with traditional buckets, tiny pieces of hay made its way into the milk, and as the cheese matured, it made the holes the variety is so well known for.
Now that the process has been modernized with machinery, though, the holes have shrunk significantly or disappeared all together in a lot of wheels.
The same bacteria that causes stinky feet produces stinky cheese
A common complaint you might hear is that someone’s aromatic feet might remind someone of a smelly piece of cheese. That’s because the same bacterium, Brevibacterium linens, are the source of both. The most famous smelly cheeses are arguably Munster, a soft cheese, and Limburger, which is only produced at two farms — one in Monroe, Wisconsin and one in Linwood, Michigan — in the entire U.S.
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