Wisconsin has long been an important part of the history and production of cheese. As the leading producer of cheese in the United States, Wisconsin has not only produced several original cheeses, but also has been instrumental in creating standards for cheesemaking. Through the Center for Dairy Research at UW Madison, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, and the Master Cheesemaker programs, Wisconsin continues to elevate the industry and the products it produces.
This week we are pleased to be participating in the short course “The World of Cheese From Pasture to Plate” in Wisconsin’s beautiful capital city of Madison. Set over 5 days this course is designed for a variety of professionals in the food industry and is focused as a foundational course providing an introduction to the cheesemaking process and the uniqueness of cheese.
This is the first in a series of blog posts about our cheese adventures in Madison! We hope to share a glimpse into the education and development we participate in that helps us better serve our industry and elevate our partnerships.
Here is a highlight of a few of the interesting things we’ve learned so far!
- Dairy maids were responsible for collecting milk from cows on early dairy farms. Their time spent with cows would sometimes expose and infect them with cow pox. However, this infection actually helped to make them naturally immune to the much deadlier small pox virus. This resistance to small pox infection helped to further the creation the small pox vaccine.
- Dairy means more to Wisconsin than citrus to Florida or potatoes to Idaho—contributing $43.4 billion annually to Wisconsin’s economy.1
- If Wisconsin were a country it would rank fourth in world cheese production.1
- In 1841 Anne Pickett pooled the milk of her cows with that of her neighbor to make the first Wisconsin cheese.1
- Stephen Babcock of the University of Wisconsin Madison invented the first inexpensive and practical way to test the butterfat content in cheese. Prior to this invention milk could be watered down or cream could be removed prior to it being sold to cheesemakers. It also allowed testing to see which cows gave the richest milk; using this information to produce better cheese. This test is still used today.2
There is so much to uncover in as rich an environment as Wisconsin. If you want to learn more about the facts above or the history of cheesemaking in Wisconsin visit the links below. We are excited to be in Wisconsin and we are looking forward to sharing our experiences.