We'll take you on a tour of the cheesemaking
process at the renowned Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, California,
(http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com), home of some of the most amazing hand-made
cheeses in America.
How can anything that smells that bad taste that good? Turns out cheese is
one of the oldest foodstuffs, dating back 12,000 years, from when humans first
started domesticating animals. From tangy Cheddar to creamy Vacherin, cheese is
created by fermenting milk from cows, goats, sheep, or even more exotic animals,
Cowgirl Creamery is an "artisanal" cheesemaker: the milk they use comes only
from cows at the famous Strauss Family Organic Creamery. Founder Sue Conley and
cheesemaker Maureen Cunnie will join us in the Exploratorium's Webcast studito tell
us how fine cheese is crafted, bring us some cheese to taste and show us the
process by actually make some cheese during the Webcast presentation. In
addition, Exploratorium biologist and teacher Karen Kalumuck will conduct live
experiments in the studio to help us understand the mysterious molds that make cheese
the flavorful substance we love.
The complex flavors of cheese will be the focus as we visit the Cetrella
Restaurant in Half Moon Bay (http://www.cetrella.com), where the "cheese room" a
special area where cheeses are cared for and aged for the enjoyment of diners-has
been introduced. Cheese-room creator and executive chef Erik Cosselmon, a man
with extensive knowledge and a passion for cheese, will take us through the
intricacies of cheese, revealing the mysteries of cheese flavor and texture, what
geography has to do with good cheese, and how to successfully pair cheese with wine and
other foods. He'll bring along some of his favorite cheese recipes, and samples
So hold your nose, sharpen your appetite (along with your curiosity), and come
along as we delve into the ancient art and the fascinating science of cheese!
You'll never look at that humble grilled-cheese sandwich the same way again.
It takes about ten pounds of cow's or goat's milk to make
one pound of cheese. If you use richer sheep's milk, it only takes six pounds.
It takes twelve pounds of milk to make a two-pound wheel of Roquefort
cheese but it must come from a special breed of sheep called the Lacaune.
The most important ingredient in cheese is milk, and good cheese does indeed
require happy cows. Animals that are relaxed and well-fed produce more milk, and
milk that is more flavorful.
Cows milked in the evening give milk that's generally higher in fat content
(best for cheesemaking) than cows milked in the morning.
"Aftermath cheeses," a designation given to English farmhouse cheeses like
Cheddar and Wiltshire, are made from milk that comes late in the breeding and
lactating cycle of the cow, with a higher concentration of fat and protein and
less water. By contrast, "very early milk," milk from the first week after a calf's
birth, contains a high ratio of colostrum (also found in human milk during the first
days of lactation) and doesn't work well for cheese.
There are eleven steps to making cheese: milking, souring (or acidification),
renneting, stirring and cutting of the curds, preparing the curds (either by
cooking or inoculating with mold or bacteria), draining (separating the curds
from the whey), molding, pressing, salting, formation of rinds, and ripening or
Remnants of cheese have been found in Egyptian tombs dating from the First
Dynasty (c. 3000-2800 B.C.E.). Homer mentions cheese in the Iliad; it was an
important trade commodity for both Greeks and Romans.
*Source: The Cheese Plate by Max McCalman and David Gibbons. New York:
Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2002.
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