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Really aged cheese: Scientists find evidence of it 7,500 years ago

  • December 22, 2012 - 3:58 PM

 

Little Miss Muffet could have been separating her curds and whey 7,500 years ago, said a study that finds the earliest solid evidence of cheese-making. Scientists performed an analysis on fragments from 34 pottery sieves discovered in Poland and found large amounts of fatty milk residue. Richard Evershed at the University of Bristol and colleagues said in the journal Nature that the findings suggest that the sieves were used to separate fat-rich curds from liquid whey in soured milk in a crude cheese-making process. "It's a very compelling forensic argument," he said. Outside expert Paul Kindstedt, a professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Vermont, agreed. He said, "This is the smoking gun. It's almost inconceivable that the milk-fat residues in the sieves were from anything else but cheese." He said cheese-making marked a major development for Neolithic people and gave them a survival advantage by allowing them to turn milk into a form that provided essential calories, proteins and minerals. He said the earliest cheeses were likely similar to spreadable cheeses like ricotta and fromage frais.

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