Sunday, April 5, 2009

History of Wisconsin Cheese

By Ian Kleine

A year after, most cheese makers from other states and other countries had adopted Wisconsin as their new home. This continuous supply of man power, both in physical labor, experience and innovation, had kept the Wisconsin cheese industry continuing strong. Most of these men were Europeans, some French and most were cheese makers by trade. Their work ethics, determination, ambition, love for cheese, family secrets and recipes, unique tastes and techniques all fused and combined with those of the Wisconsin cheese makers, making some of the world's finest and celebrated cheeses of our time.

Swiss cheese makers had created the first batches of Swiss cheeses in Wisconsin. Italians made with flavor and depth, bringing in recipes of Gorgonzola, Mozzarella and that of Provolone. The English folks gave Cheddar, a robust flavored cheese. The Dutch contributed the recipes for Edam Cheese and Gouda. The French, Camembert and Brie, equally soft cheeses. Brick cheese and Colby cheese were some of the original cheeses created by the Wisconsin folk.

At present, from the original less than three thousand factories, the number was somewhat fluctuating with the combining and splitting of companies of different cheese makers. The dairy farms, however, was a different story. Milk will always have a strong base in Wisconsin, and thanks to milk, the cheese industry will stay strong.

At least fifteen thousand dairy farms exist today, providing the core ingredient for cheese-making. Dairy farms, maintained with milk by one million two hundred thousand strong cows, produce an average eighteen thousand pounds of quality milk. A lot of these are used for cheese making as well, approximately 90 percent of the value, with over one hundred fifteen plants processing and manufacturing cheese at a commercial level.

Wisconsin also strives to maintain and uphold this tradition, employing universities to teach cheese making courses, as well as cheese making licenses. At least over two billion pounds of cheese are produced per year, supplying America's demand for quality cheese.

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