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The science of cheese.

Background

Milk Matters

Cheese is made from the milk of ruminant animals--animals such as cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, camels, horses, and yaks--who are vegetarian and chew the cud. (Note: pigs are not ruminants.) Each milk type is different and affects the taste and texture of the cheese. No matter the milk used, cheese is central to cultures world-wide. Its manufacture is part ancient art, and lots of science!

Milk is composed of two basic ingredients that are blended together: liquids called whey and milk solids. Whey is made mostly of water but also contains nutrients and important proteins. When the milk solids are separated from the whey, they are called curds, which are made of fat, minerals, sugar, vitamins, and proteins.

Making Cheese

When making cheese, cheese makers first separate the curd from the whey. They do this by adding various protein enzymes to the milk. Proteins such as rennet (the membrane lining of a calf stomach) allow chemical reactions to proceed faster than they would on their own. The milk sours quicker, the milk proteins tangle together trapping fat and some water, and the milk coagulates. The whey separates from the solids and the milk solids become the curds from which the cheese is made.

Next, cheese makers break up the curds by cutting through them, further draining away the whey. Sometimes, they add salt to the curd to help draw out even more water. In the process of osmosis, the concentrated salt draws water in its direction. The curd becomes more and more dense until it becomes a cheese.

The last step of cheese making is to either eat the young cheese, or to set it aside for the process of aging. Cheese makers often add flavor, such as herbs, to young cheeses before they wrap them for sale. Aging a cheese makes it harder, and is one way to give it a stronger flavor. Cheese makers also age cheese in special conditions, such as in caves in meadows, to draw extra flavor from the chosen environment. Regions around the world produce specific cheeses due to the natural conditions--and the traditional talent of their cheese makers!

Initiating Questions Levels Pre-A - B

1. Where do you think cheese comes from? (milk)

2. How can a liquid like milk become a solid like cheese? (Milk is made from liquids and milk solids. The milk solids are turned into cheese.)

3. Can we separate milk solids from the liquids? (yes)

4. What do you think milk solids are made of? (fat, protein, minerals, vitamins)

Follow-up Questions Levels Pre-A - B

5. What do you think makes up cheese? (Milk solids are separated from whey and converted to curd, which can be made into cheese.)

6. What do you think whey is made of? (important elements and protein)

7. How do you think cheese is different from milk? (It is more condensed and usually has more fat.)

Level Pre-A

Main Concept: Students will learn that milk is a liquid and cheese is a solid. Cheese is a good food made from milk.

Picture Activity

Ask students if they have ever thought about where cheese comes from. Ask them if they ever thought about milk as a food. Lead them in a discussion of the properties of milk as a food. It contains essential minerals, proteins and vitamins. Milk, however, can come from many sources--not just from cows.

Vocabulary

Answers (students write in the missing letter "i" in the new words): milk; liquid; solid

Weekly Lab

Please read the information for the nutrition labels pictured on page 1. Students are asked to figure out whether or not milk and cheese have the same ingredients. They will listen as the teacher reads the ingredient labels for the whole Vitamin D milk and the cheddar cheese. You may want to bring in an actual carton of milk and package of cheddar. Show the students the nutrition labels and explain that they show what is in each item. You could extend the lab by looking at different kinds of cheeses and have students find any similarities and/or differences in the labels. CAUTION: If you elect to have students taste the cheese, please be careful of food allergies. Follow your school's guidelines regarding food in the classroom.

Math

Students will count and compare the ingredients in the milk versus the cheese.

Answers: There are 1, 2 ingredients in the milk; there are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ingredients in the cheese.

Storytelling

Students are asked to look at the pictures of some different kinds of cheese. Give students opportunity to tell the class about the cheeses they like to eat. Encourage them to think about the different flavors and textures of the cheese.

Challenge

Answers: Students will circle cow, sheep, and goat.

Bringing It Home

Students will connect the dots to see the three steps in cheese-making. Ask students, "Which comes first?" The cow comes first, the milk from the cow comes next, and then finally, the cheese from the milk.

Level A

Main Concept: Students will learn that cheese is a healthy food made from milk. Milk has liquid parts and solid parts. Cheese is made from the solid parts.

Vocabulary

Students fill in the missing letters in the new words.

Answers: milk; solid; cheese; liquid; Students will circle the word with the letter "e," cheese.

Weekly Lab

(See Level Pre-A.) Please read the information for the nutrition labels pictured on page 1. Students are asked to determine whether or not milk and cheese have the same ingredients. They are asked to analyze and compare fat grams per serving. They are also asked to think about why cheese has more fat than milk. Teach them that most milk fat is in the curd, which is the part that the cheese is made from, and not in the whey, which is discarded.

Math

Students will count and compare the ingredients and nutritional information on the milk and cheese labels.

Answers: 2 ingredients in the milk; 5 ingredients in the cheese; 28 grams in a one-ounce serving of the milk; 28 grams in a one-ounce serving of the cheese; 1 fat gram in a one-ounce serving of the milk; 9 fat grams in a one-ounce serving of the cheese.

Writing in Science

Answers: Students will circle cow, sheep, and goat and write the names of those three animals.

Challenge

Students are asked to write down what Miss Muffet was actually eating.

Answer: Curds and whey is cottage cheese.

Bringing It Home

Ask students to think about different kinds of milk and cheese. They are asked to cut and paste a cheese collage. Remind students that cheese is made from milk, and different kinds of milk make different kinds of cheese.

Level B

Main Concept: (See Level A.) Students will learn that liquids in the milk are called whey. When the solids are separated from the whey, they are called curds. Cheese is made from the curds. Both curds and whey have proteins, but the curds also have fat. Milk for cheese comes from animals such as cows, sheep, goats, buffalo, and even camels and yaks.

Vocabulary

Answers: Milk is made up of liquids and solids; The liquid in milk is called whey; the solid in milk is called curds.

Students will circle the vowels: the "u" in curds, the "e" in whey, the "u" and two "i's" in liquid, and the "o" and "i" in solids.

Weekly Lab

Please read the information for the nutrition labels pictured on page 1 and the SAFETY STICKY NOTE, to the right. Students are asked to test the effect of vinegar when added to milk. They are asked to compare milk and cheese ingredients before adding the vinegar to a glass of milk. Explain to the students that vinegar is an enzyme which, when added, should naturally curdle the milk. This causes the liquids to separate from the solids.

Math

Students learn that it takes 8 units of milk to make 1 unit of cheese. They will count and compare ingredients and fat grams. They will complete a math sentence to help them compare the amount of fat in the milk to the amount of fat in the cheese per 28-gram (1-oz) serving of each.

Answers: 2 ingredients in the milk; 5 ingredients in the cheese; 9 grams of fat in the cheese - 1 gram of fat in the milk = 8 more grams of fat in the cheese

Writing in Science

Answers: Answers will vary but may include: cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, camels, or yaks.

Challenge

(Please see Level A.)

Bringing It Home

(Please see Level A.)

Initiating Questions Levels C - E

1. What do you think milk is made of? (liquids called whey and milk solids called curd)

2. What do you think makes up cheese? (milk solids that turn into curds)

3. How do you think cheese makers separate milk liquids from milk solids? (They heat the milk, or add enzymes.)

4. How do you think cheese makers pull extra liquid out of the curd? (They chop or press the curd to separate it from the whey, and they sometimes add salt to draw out more liquid.)

Follow-up Questions Levels C - E

5. What do you think is the most important ingredient in curd for cheese making? (the fat)

6. Do you think enzymes are important to cheese production? (Yes, they move along a process that might otherwise take a very long time.)

7. What do you think happens when the milk proteins tangle with the fat? (The milk coagulates and curds form.)

8. How do you think salt helps the process of cheese making? (Salt pulls excess liquid out of the curd via a process called osmosis.)

9. What do you think the process of aging does to a cheese? (It makes it harder and often more flavorful.)

Level C

Main Concept: See Levels A- B.) Students learn that whey has proteins but is made up mostly of water, and curds are made up mostly of proteins and fat. The first step in making cheese is separating the curds from the whey, using heat or by adding enzymes which speed up the reactions. After some cheeses are made, they are set aside for awhile in a process called aging.

Vocabulary

Answers: 1) liquids, whey; 2) curds; 3) enzymes; 4) aging; Bonus Answer: proteins

Weekly Lab

Please read the information for the nutrition labels pictured on page 1 and the SAFETY STICKY NOTE, above. Students are asked to test whether the level of fat in milk affects the way it coagulates. They are asked to compare whole milk and skim milk ingredients before adding the vinegar to each glass of milk. Explain to the students that vinegar is an enzyme which, when added, should naturally curdle the milk. Whole milk will thicken more than skim milk.

Math

Answers: 1) 2 ingredients in milk; 2) 28 grams per 1-oz serving; 3) 1 fat gram in milk; 4) 17 calories in milk; 5) 5 ingredients in cheese; 6) 28 grams per 1-oz serving; 7) 9 fat grams in cheese; 8) 113 calories in cheese; 9) 7 - 1 = 6 more grams of protein in a serving of cheese; 10) 113 - 17 = 96 more calories in a serving of cheese; 11) 9 - 1 - 8 more fat grams in a 1-oz serving of cheese

Writing in Science

Students are asked to observe their WEEKLY LAB notes, and to contemplate the differences in fat in cheese from whole milk versus cheese from skim milk. They will answer the question in a three sentence paragraph.

Challenge

(Please see Level A.) Students are asked to find a rhyme for "cottage cheese," and to rewrite the last line.

Where in the World?

Students look at the map and answer questions about world cheese production. They learn that cheese is produced all over the world, but the U.S. produces more than any other country. Cooler climates are more conducive to cheese making but cheese is made on every continent except Antarctica.

Level D

Main Concept: (See Levels A - C.) Students learn that the type of animal providing the milk affects the taste and texture of the cheese. The milk coagulates after the addition of enzymes. The resulting curds are soft and the whey is discarded. Sometimes salt is added, which helps draw out even more of the water.

Vocabulary

Answers" textures; minerals; proteins; enzymes; whey; milk solids

Weekly Lab

(Please see Level C.)

Math

Answers: 1) 2 ingredients in milk; 5 ingredients in cheese; ratio: 2:5; 2) 8 calories from fat in milk; 82 calories from fat in cheese; ratio: 8:82, simplified (/2) to 4:41; 3) 20 calories in milk (rounded); 110 calories in cheese (rounded); ratio: 20:110; simplified (/5) to 4:22; 4) 100 kilograms of milk will make 12.5 kilograms of cheese (100 / 8 = 12.5)

Writing in Science

Students write about their WEEKLY LAB using the scientific method.

Challenge

(Please see Level A.) Students are asked to find rhymes for "spider" and "cottage cheese," and to rewrite the last two lines of the poem.

Where in the World?

(Please see Level C.)

Level E

Main Concept: (See Levels A - D.) The addition of concentrated salt to the curds helps draw out more water in a process called osmosis.

Vocabulary

Answers to riddles: 1) texture, cheese; 2) curds, whey; 3) enzymes;

Weekly Lab

(Please see Level C.) Students are asked to test how the addition of salt affects the process of separating the curds and whey. They are asked to compare whole milk and cheddar cheese ingredients before adding the vinegar to the glasses of milk. The salted curd should appear drier than the unsalted curd.

Math

Answers: 1) 2 (milk); 5 (cheese); ratio: 2:5; 2) 8 fat calories (milk); 82 fat calories (cheese); ratio: 8:82, simplified to 4:41; 3) 20 calories in milk (rounded); 110 calories in cheese (rounded); ratio: 20:110, simplified to: 4:22; 4) 200 kilograms of milk are needed to make 25 kilograms of cheese (25 / 8 = 200); 5) 125 kilograms of cheese from 1,000 kilograms of milk (1,000 / 8 = 125)

Writing in Science

(Please see Level D.)

Challenge

Students are asked to read the poem "Little Miss Muffet." The student will insert his or her name on line 1, find a rhyme for his or her last name, find a rhyme for the words "spider" and "cottage cheese," and rewrite the first and last two lines.

Where in the World?

Students meet artisanal cheese makers--the Falk family, of Grantsburg, Wisconsin. They will look at a map of the United States and discover the five states that produce the most cheese.

Weekly Resources

Helpful Sources for Planning Your Science Weekly Classroom Activities

Recommended Resources

* Carroll, Ricki and Robert. Cheesemaking Made Easy, Pownal, VT: Story Communications, Inc, 1996.

Internet Resources

New England Cheesemaking Supply Company http://www.cheesemaking.com

Midwest Dairy Association http://www.midwestdairy.com

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com

DID YOU KNOW?

Every year, each person in the United States eats an average of 33 pounds of cheese. In Denmark (Den-mark), the average is 63 pounds.

DID YOU KNOW?

The word "enzyme" (en-zyme) comes from the Greek "to ferment" (fer-ment).

DID YOU KNOW?

The Word "protein" I (pro-tein) is from the Greek "first element', / (el-e-ment)./

SAFETY STICKY NOTE

In the labs for Levels B, C, D, and E, instructions are given for making curds by adding vinegar to milk. Please provide adult supervision for students while using vinegar in the classroom. You may want to do the lab as a class demonstration, or provide safety glasses for students. Also, please be cautious of food allergies if students will be tasting the cheeses. Follow school guidelines

Science says ... Cheese is a healthy (health-y) food!

goats

camels

sheep

cheese

cheese

milk

liquid

cows

yaks

cheese

solid

New Words

Milk

liquid

Cheese

solid

healthy

food

Milk is a liquid (liq-uid). Cheese is a solid (sol-id). Milk has liquid parts and solid parts. We make cheese from the solid parts of milk!

Vocabulary

Write the missing letters.

Circle the word with the letter [e].

m ilk

sol d

che se

l qu d

Weekly lab

Are milk and cheese the same?

You need: a carton of whole milk, a block of wrapped cheddar cheese

Step 1: Look at the label on the milk carton.

Step 2: Listen while your teacher reads the ingredients (in-gre-di-ents).

Step 3: Look at the cheese label.

Step 4: Listen while your teacher reads the ingredients.

Step 5: Are milk and cheese made of the same ingredients?

Step 6: How many grams of fat in the milk? How many grams of fat in the cheese? Why does cheese have more fat?

Science says ... Milk is a food. Cheese is a food.

Math

Read the milk and cheese labels.

Ingredients in Milk

* milk

* vitamin D3 added

Ingredients in Cheese

* fresh pasteurized milk

* cheese cultures

* salt

* enzyme

* annatto

Count the number of ingredients in the milk.

Count the number of ingredients in the cheese.

Count the grams in a serving of milk.

Count the grams in a serving of cheese.

Count the fat grams in a serving of milk.

Count the fat grams in a serving of cheese.

Writing in science.

Cheese comes from milk. Three animals give milk. Circle the animals that give milk. Write their names in the blanks,

Challenge

Listen to your teacher read the poem "Little Miss Muffet."

DID YOU KNOW??

People have been making cheese for at least 5,000 years.

Little Miss Muffet Sat on a tuffet. Eating her curds and whey, Along came a spider, Who sat down beside her, And frightened Miss Muffet away.

What do you think Miss Muffet was eating? Fill in the sentence.

Little Miss Muffet was eating

Bringing It Home

Make a cheese (col-lage)!

You need: construction paper, scissors, glue

First comes milk. Next comes cheese!

Step 1: Cut out the milk pictures.

Step 2: Glue the pictures on the left side of the paper.

Step 3: Cut out the cheese pictures.

Step 4: Glue the pictures on the right side of the paper.

"Have you heard about Michelle Obama's 'Let's Move' compaign?"

"Yes. She wants to help kids get fit."

"we'll learn all about physical fitness in our next issue!"

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 ounce (28 g)
Amount Per Serving

Calories 17              Calories From Fat 8
                         Daily Value *

Total Fat 1 g                             1%
  Saturated Fat 1 g                       3%
  Trans Fat
Cholesterol 3 mg                          1%
Sodium Il mg                              0%
Total Carbohydrate 1 g                    0%
  Dietary Fiber 0 g                       0%
  Sugars 1 g
Protein 1 g

Vitamin A   1%   Iron         0%
Calcium     3%   Vitamin D3   3%

* Percent Dad Values are based on a 2,000
calorie diet. Your dad values may be higher
or lower depending on your caloric needs.

Adapted from NutritionDats.com

Ingredients: whole milk, Vitamin D3

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 ounce (28 g)

Amount Per Serving
Calories 113             Calories From Fat 8
                         Daily Value *

Total Fat 9g                             14%
  Saturated Fat 6 g                      30%
  Trans Fat
Cholesterol 29 mg                        10%
Sodium 174 mg                             7%
Total Carbohydrate 0 g                    0%
  Dietary Fiber 0 g                       0%
  Sugars 0 g
Protein 7 e

Vitamin A 6%  Iron 1%
Calcium 20%   Vitamin 1%

* Percent Dally Values are based on a 2.000
calorie diet. Your duly values may be high
or lower depending on your caloric needs.

Adapted from NulritionDala.com

Ingredients: milk, cheese cultures, salt,
enzyme, annatto

WHOLE VITAMIN D MILK

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 ounce (28 g)

Amount Per Serving
Calories 17              Calories From Fat 8
                         Daily Value *

Total Fat 1 g                              1
  Saturated Fat 1 g                       3%
  Trans Fat
Cholesterol 3 mg                           1
Sodium 11 mg                              0%
Total Carbohydrate 1 g                    0%
  Dietary Fiber 0 g                       0%
  Sugars 1 g
Protein 1 g

Vitamin A   1%   Iron         0%
Calcium     3%   Vitamin D3   3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 1,000
calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher
or lower depending on your caloric needs.

Adapted from Nutrition Data.com

Ingredients: whole milk, Vitamin D3

CHEDDAR CHEESE

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 ounce (28 g)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 113             Calories From Fat 82
                                Daily Value *

Total Fat 9 g                             14%
Saturated Fat 6 g                         30%
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 29 mg                         10%
Sodium 174 mg                              7%
Total Carbohydrate 0 g                     0%
Dietary Fiber 0 g                          0%
Sugars 0 g
Protein 7 g

Vitamin A    6%   Iron         1%
Calcium     20%   Vitamin D3   1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000
calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher
or lower depending on your caloric needs.
Adapted from NutritionDataxom

Ingredients: milk, cheese cultures, salt,
enzyme, annatto

The nutrition labels shown above are for whole milk
with Vitamin D3 added (blue, on the left); and for cheddar cheese
(red, on the right). They are provided for you here, since the
information shown in the student level is small and may be difficult
to read.

IMPORTANT NOTE. A serving of milk is normally 1 cup (8 ounces or 224
grams) and a serving of cheese is normally about 2 ounces / 56 grams).
However, for the purposes of comparing the nutritional values of each,
gram for gram in the student activities, we have standardized the
serving sizes to 1 ounce for each
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Publication:Science Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2012
Words:3556
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