Here’s an interesting topic of conversation for tonight’s family dinner or for when you’re chatting with friends over the weekend. Swiss cheese is losing its holes, and scientists think they’ve figured out why.
The scientific theory has long been that the holes in Swiss cheese — called “eyes” by those in the cheese profession — were caused by bacteria. Live Science reports that the bacteria introduced by the cultures added to the dairy eat holes in the cheese as it’s aging.
The old science got it wrong, suggest Swiss scientists at Agroscope, a government agricultural institute. The holes, they found, are more likely caused by hay particles, according to BBC News.
In the past, when cows were milked, "microscopically small hay particles" fell into buckets during milking. Those small hay particles caused tiny holes that grew bigger as the cheese matured.
Modern methods make the contamination by hay much less likely to happen so the holes aren’t developing like they used to in the past. To figure this out, the scientists added hay dust to milk. The milk was then used to make cheese that was aged for 130 days. The end result was holier cheese. The number of holes varied depending on the amount of hay dust added. The study has yet to be peer reviewed.
What does this mean for your cheese enjoyment? Not much as far as I can tell, except if the holes keep disappearing it won’t be as easy for you to tell which is the Swiss cheese on a cheese tray.
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