German Food Guide
German Food Guide
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    Cheese Varieties
Photo:  © Tomo Jesenicnik -


Cheese (Käse) is a solid food made from the milk of cows, goats, sheep, and other mammals. There are hundreds of kinds of cheeses produced all over the world, many of which can be found in German delicatessens and are used in German cooking.

The exact origin of cheese is not exactly known. It is estimated to have originated around 8000 BC to around 3000 BC, either in the Middle East or in Central Asia.There are several legends/folktales surrounding the origins of cheese - some truth can probably be found in each:

Cheese as a gift from the gods:  In the old Mesopotamian region, people offered milk as a sacrifice to their gods. The priests left the milk standing for a few days to be consumed by the gods. When they checked back, the milk had soured, causing it to curdle and get thick. At some point, one of the priest had the courage to taste the curdled milk, and discovered its pleasant taste - the first form of Sour Curd Cheese was discovered.

Cheese from the stomach of a calf:  Another story goes that hunters discovered a tasteful, thick, white mass in the stomach of a calf they had just killed. The animal must have drank milk from its mother shortly before its death. The special digestive enzyme in the stomach, rennet, separated the milk into curds and whey.

Folktales aside, there is evidence of cheese production in ancient civilizations. In Homer's "Odyssey" (8th century BC) describes the Cyclops making and storing cheese made from goat's and sheep's milk. Hippocrates describes cheese as a medicine, and goat's milk was used by ancient Greek's for trading.

By Roman times, cheese was a major part of everyday life. Uniform cheese making techniques spread throughout Europe and to those places not yet familiar with it. In the Middle Ages in Europe, cheese was diversified, with each region developing its own specialties. From this came many of the cheeses that we know today: Cheddar (dates back to 1500 AD), Parmesan (1597 AD), Gouda (1697 AD), and Camembert (1791 AD).

German Cheese

Search our dictionary for a particular cheese or find the right cheese for your cooking needs. Our cheese dictionary contains an extensive list of cheeses produced throughout Germany.

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Cheese Categories

Cheese can be classified into various categories or families based on how they are made and similarities in appearance and flavor. Learn about the different types of cheese.

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Cheese & Wine

Wine and cheese have been enjoyed together for hundreds of years. Not sure which wines fit best to German cheeses? Visit our Cheese & Wine Center to read our recommendations.

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Camembert Cheese

Photo: © Richard Griffin -

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