The History of Cheese

First produced in around 8000 BC, Cheese has become a food favourite for many people across the world. Available in a wide array of flavours, textures and colours, the popular dairy product has a rich history which dates back to when sheep were first domesticated by man.

Let’s explore this ancient food and uncover how it came about:

When Was Cheese First Made?

Although no one knows exactly when it was first produced, the general consensus is that cheese first appeared around 8000 BC. According to an ancient legend, it was accidentally made by a nomad, travelling with a camel in the “Fertile Crescent” in Iraq. While riding the camel, the milk in the nomad’s sheepskin saddlebag had separated the curds from the whey. The rocking walk of the camel stirred the milk and eventually created cheese!

Introduction of Cheese to Britain

The first evidence of dairy foods in Britain dates back to around 3800 BC, at Durrington Walls, near to Stonehenge where dairy products were found in dental plaque and on shards of ancient pottery.

Roman Britain

Roman legions also brought their cheesemaking skills to England in the years following AD43. Every Roman legionary got an ounce of cheese in his daily ration. It is thought that the Romans would enjoy one of Britain’s oldest cheeses, known as Cheshire Cheese. There is an ancient myth that a Cheshire cheese-maker was put to death by the Romans for refusing to tell them how to make it.

Medieval Times

Many of the cheeses that we know today were being made by monks in the monasteries, including Brie de Meux, Epoisse, and Comte.

The Early Modern Period

The first recorded shipload of Cheshire Cheese arrived at the port of London in 1650 and became instantly popular. Regular shipments began to arrive in 1652 after the end of the Civil War, and shipments began to rapidly increase.

The Georgian Era

Named after the village Stilton in Cambridgeshire, Stilton became a national treasure in the early 18th century. Travellers stopped at the Bell Inn in the village where they would enjoy Stilton provided by the innkeeper of the Bell.

Stilton can only be made in three counties – Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire – and strangely not the Cambridgeshire town of Stilton itself.

The Victorian Era

Cheddar Cheese began to be produced in Cheshire and Somerset, which soon began to be shipped across the country.

In 1851, the world’s first cheese factory opened in New York, USA.

World War One

When rationing was introduced during the second world war, hard cheeses like Swiss, Gouda and Cheddar were better able to withstand shipping than softer cheeses, so they were the first to be rationed.

What About Today?

Approximately 504 thousand metric tons of Cheese is produced each year in the UK, making it a food favourite in the UK.

Finding the freshest wholesale cheese can be hard. At Freshways, we provide the freshest dairy products on the market and take pride in being the dependable dairy products supplier in the UK. For more information about our wholesale food, get in touch with a helpful member of our team today.