Cheese Making Process is More Than 7,000 Years Old
Researchers have found that the cheese-making process is more than 7,000 years old, as shown by the traces of milk fats in the Neolithic pottery fragments from Europe. People of those days probably made cheese, although in a simple but functional form, in order to get the best use of milk by preserving it in this form.
"Making cheese is a particularly efficient way to exploit the nutritional benefits of milk, without becoming ill because of the lactose," Peter Bogucki, an archaeologist at Princeton University in New Jersey and one of the researchers, said in a statement.
Researchers including Mélanie Salque, a chemist at the University of Bristol, UK, utilized the process of gas chromatography and carbon-isotope ratios to check for the molecules soaked in 34 pottery sieves of the ancient clays found in Poland that confirmed the presence of milk fats.
"We analysed some fragments of pottery from the region of Kuyavia [Poland] pierced with small holes that looked like modern cheese-strainers," Salque said.
This research confirms the initial time of one of the biotechnological products.
“This is the first and only evidence of [Neolithic] cheese-making in the archaeological record,” Richard Evershed, a chemist at Bristol and a co-author of the paper, said in a statement.
“It’s one small step, but it’s filling out the picture of that transition from nomadism,” Heather Paxson, a cultural anthropologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, said.
Although the exact process is not clear but it is thought that the process for making cheese would be same as it is today. It can be made from milk by warming it a little, adding some acidic substance in it, allowing it to cool and draining of the liquid part. 11 billion pounds of cheese is produced annually by almost the same process or with slight modifications and about 5,000 different brands are available globally.
Researchers wrote, “This new evidence emphasizes the importance of pottery vessels in processing dairy products, particularly in the manufacture of reduced-lactose milk products among lactose-intolerant prehistoric farming communities.”
This research has been published online in December 12th issue of the journal Nature.
(Image: Sieve fragment to strain cheese, Image credit: Mélanie Salque/University of Bristol)