Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Food for the Million: Cheese (1905)

As a final (for the time being) entry into my Food for the Million series, may I offer you a short but intriguing item from the Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania) of 25 July 1905?

A record consignment of cheese was recently despatched from Liverpool to London. It consisted of 5000 cheeses, weighing 200 tons, and was consigned to one person, a London merchant. The whole of the cheese was Canadian. Its value was about ₤9000. Some 32 railway trucks were required for the carriage of the cheese.

This is indeed a different spin on the topic. I thought that cheese was always and ever a staple food for the masses?

It appears that Canadian cheese had been an important export to Britain for some decades, as is shown in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Public Works for the Province of Ontario in 1871 – although the its quality at the time was controversial (perhaps the reason it was considered suitable for the million/)

Canadian Cheese in the London and Liverpool markets do not, except in rare instances, command the highest quotations. In the business circulars of London Houses it is classed as middling quality, and is quoted from 2s. to 3s. per cwt. below U. S. Factory Cheese. A Liverpool House, when asked the question, “Why does Canadian Cheese not bring Cable quotations ?” replied: “ It is only U.S. fancy dairies which are sold at these extreme prices.” And a Glasgow circular of 21st Dec., 1870, quotes Canadian Factory Cheese at 60s. per cwt. (112 lbs.,) a figure fully 10s. below the cable quotations of that date. Now, it will not do to say that this state of things is the result of conspiracy to depreciate the Canadian article, neither will it do to say that inferior U.S. cheese is branded Canadian, and our finest is sold as U.S. for, comparatively speaking, a very small proportion of the Canadian products is now handled by New York merchants. We believe that the truth of the matter is this, the disparity between the market price of Canadian and U. S. Cheese is due to our article not being, generally speaking, quite the thing as regards quality. The kind of cheese which commands the highest price in the English market is close in texture, i.e. not porous, will slice in thin pieces without falling into crumbs, is mild in flavour, and in colour - is either pure white or a pale red, the pure white suiting the Lancashire market, and the high coloured the London. Again and again have we heard from the best authorities that straw-coloured cheese (the ruling shade in our product) is the most unsaleable that can be shipped. To produce this class of article is as much in our power as it is in our New York neighbours………..

As the recipe for the day, I give you a genuine prize-winning Canadian recipe for cheese from The Canadian Agriculturist, and Journal of the Board of Agriculture of Upper Canada (1863.)

The following is the statement of Mr. Hugh McMillan, of Erin Township, of the mode of manufacturing the cheese exhibited by him at the Provincial Exhibition of 1862, to which was awarded the second prize:

Size of farm 200 acres. Mixed husbandry. Number of cows, 10, Breed, Durham grades. Pasture, clover and timothy mixed Was made about the 20th June Night's milk is strained into pans, and left till morning, then the cream is skimmed off, and part of the milk put in a tin pail, putting the pail in a pot or kettle of boiling water, until it is sufficiently warm to raise the temperature of night and morning's milk to nearly that of new milk. If the cream is heated it has a tendency to be greasy on the top, if the milk is heated in a pot or kettle it is apt to give it an unpleasant flavour. Rennet is prepared by steeping one or more in water until the strength is obtained, and then straining off the liquor, use a sufficient quantity to digest in about an hour, then carefully break or mix the curd; then putting the strainer over it, it is allowed time to settle, then the whey is dipped as it rises, (we neither scald nor use colouring matter). When the whey is off cut the curd in slices which are piled in one side of the tub to drain. When it is drained it is broken with the knife, and half an ounce of common salt used to every pound of curd. It is then put in the hoop allowing it a short time to drain before putting it to press. It is pressed lightly for the first three hours, after which the pressure is increased to 16 or 20 cwt. It is changed two or three times a day till thoroughly pressed, after which it is taken to the cheese room, where it is bandaged and turned once a day

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