Can you tell what animal’s milk was used in making cheese by simply tasting the cheese? We love doing this little exercise at our monthly cheese club (and on our own when we feel a little competitive). 

If you love cheese and want to know a little more, let’s find out what exactly makes up it’s cheesy delicious-ness and why milk is so important?
Let’s dig in.

What ingredients make up cheese?

Milk is the main ingredient of any cheese. To become cheese, milk has to go through the process called curdling with the help of edible acidic substances, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Some cheeses are acidified by bacteria, which turns milk sugars into lactic acid.

This acidity causes milk proteins to tangle into solid masses called curds. These curds are pressed and drained and mixed with secondary agents in numerous amounts for different styles. These are the bare basic of cheese making process and you can learn much more at our cheesemaking workshops.

Don Cristiano Cheese at The Cheesemaking Workshop

The importance of milk

As much as the process varies, milk is the first and main ingredient to make cheese. Milk will also determine a lot of the future cheese’s flavour.

Milk is more complex than you’d think and it’s composition varies according to many things. Determining factors for the milk’s taste are: 

  • the type and breed of animal,
  • the season and geographic location,
  • and the health and nutrition of the animal.

For example goats’ milk has higher water content than cows’ milk so the goat’s cheeses are usually softer. Similarly, sheep’s milk is higher in fat so sheep’s milk cheese has a creamier texture than cows’ milk cheese.

Have you milked your buffalo lately?

Commonly, cheeses are made by using the milk of:

  • cow, 
  • goat, 
  • sheep,
  • buffalo,
  • ewe,
  • or their blends.

However, the list doesn’t stop there. There are cheeses made from:

  • yak milk (in Tibetan communities),
  • horse milk (in Central Asia),
  • camel milk (in Ethiopia, Mauritania, Sudan and Bedouin communities),
  • deer milk (in Sami communities in Finland and New Zealand),
  • alpaca and llama milk (in Andean communities in South American),
  • donkey milk (in Serbia).
  • and even pig milk (attempted by Brooklyn chef Edward Lee and Dutch farmer).
Cheese at The Cheesemaking Workshop