History is cheese is as old as human civilisation. The ancestor of cheese is milk acidified drink called by the greeks “kumiss”. Humans discovered that milk coagulated spontaneously just adding some rennet, that in the beginning was made with of fig latex. So, yes the original rennet was vegetable!
With the greek and the roman civilisation cheese became a vital part of the farmers diet and the production grew. Especially With the romans aged cheeses were introduced in the daily production.
In the middle age with the urbanization the demand for food surged, so the one for cheeses. In that period in the countries were romans introduced new dairy techniques and the use of the rennet new kind of cheeses were invented, such as Parmigiano, Stracchino,Cheddar, Brie, Chester and Emmenthal.
During the renaissance the production of cheese shifted from self consumption to a modern industry where cheese was an actual commodity, mostly for the rich and the middle-class.
In the 1700 and 1800 the scientific discoveries in the field of microbiology revolutionised the dairy production transforming it from an artisan production to an industrial production.
The first factory for the industrial production of cheese opened in Switzerland in 1815, but large-scale production first found real success in the United States. Credit usually goes to Jesse Williams, a dairy farmer from New York, who in 1851 started making cheese in an assembly-line fashion using the milk from farms in the nearby. Within decades, hundreds of such dairy associations existed.
The 1860s saw the beginnings of mass-produced rennet, and by the turn of the century scientists were producing pure microbial cultures. Before then, bacteria in cheesemaking had come from the environment or from recycling an earlier batch's whey; the pure cultures meant a more standardized cheese could be produced.
Factory-made cheese overtook traditional cheesemaking in the WW2 era and factories have been the source of most cheese in America and Europe ever since.
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