Issue: Water

17 November 2014 article

MT May 2016 reviews

heese and Microbes

US$125.00 ISBN 978-1555815868

Recent years have seen something of a counter-revolution both in brewing and cheesemaking and a massive resurgence in interest in artisan or craft products. This book, published by the American Society for Microbiology and edited by a director of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, looks at the complex microbiology of the huge range of cheeses produced around the world and has enlisted a panel of authors from the United States and (predominantly) Europe to do this.

An introductory historical chapter from the Editor is followed by an excellent short account of the basic features of cheesemaking, describing how in broad terms the process influences the microflora and consequently the product. The complexity of the underlying microbiology and biochemistry is such that starting from milk, a fairly uniform raw material, it is possible by slight changes in process conditions to produce a huge array of different products. This is well illustrated by the subsequent chapter describing the difficulties in devising simple systems of cheese classification. Chapters on mesophilic and thermophilic starters and mould-ripened cheeses are then followed by a series of contributions on neglected areas, which make this book unique. There are chapters on traditional mountain cheeses, Protected Designation of Origin Italian cheeses, traditional Greek cheeses, the biodiversity in yeast/bacterial consortia associated with surface-ripened cheeses such as Limburger, as well as an interesting contribution on the role of wooden tools as reservoirs of microbes in cheesemaking practice.

A penultimate chapter on issues of microbiological quality and safety is followed by a closing contribution from the Center for Systems Biology at Harvard on an ecosystem approach to studying cheese microbiology integrating the massive datasets available through high-throughput sequencing with measurements of ecosystem properties. This is an excellent book that doesn’t lack hard science and might also give you an appetite.


University of Surrey