Archaeological finds show that cheese may have been made as early as the 7000s BCE, and there is solid evidence that cheese was being made in Poland around 5,500 BCE. This means that it likely far predated the wheel, which appears to have been invented around 4,000 to 3,500 BCE. It's thought that people discovered cheesemaking by accident after storing milk in a pouch fashioned out of a sheep's, cow's, or goat's stomach that still contained rennet and finding out that it turned into cheese.
More facts about cheese:
- Rennet is still used in cheesemaking — it's an enzyme that causes milk to separate into curds and whey. After this happens, the curds are pressed together and allowed to age, making cheese.
- Records of cheese have been found both in Ancient Egyptian and Minoan writing and pictures.
- The US is the top producer of cheese in the world, producing around 4,700 tons (4,275 tonnes) of cheese a year. The Greeks eat the most cheese per year though — an average of about 68 lbs (about 31 kg) of cheese per person a year. That's around 10 more pounds (about 4.5 kg) per person per year than the next biggest consumer, France.
- Depending on how they're classified, there are between 500 and 1,000 different types of cheese.