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How is Cheese Made?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:44 pm    Post subject: How is Cheese Made? Reply with quote

How is Cheese Made?

February 20, 2017

From cow to curd, there are many steps along the way to make the cheeses we all know and love.

What is cheese made of? It all starts with collecting milk from dairy farms. Once it’s brought to the cheese plant, the cheesemakers check the milk and take samples to make sure it passes quality and purity tests.

Once it passes, the milk goes through a filter and is then standardized – that is, they may add in more fat, cream or protein. This is important because cheesemakers need to start with the same base milk in order to make a consistent cheese. After the milk is standardized, it’s pasteurized. Pasteurization is necessary because raw milk can harbor dangerous bacteria, and pasteurization kills those bacteria.

At this point, good bacteria or “starter cultures” are added to the milk. The starter cultures ferment the lactose, milk’s natural sugar, into lactic acid. This process helps determine the cheese’s flavor and texture. Different types of cultures are used to create different types of cheese. For example, Swiss cheese uses one type of culture, while Brie and Blue use others. After the starter culture, a few other ingredients are added including rennet and, depending on the type of cheese, color -- which is why Cheddar is orange.

Rennet causes the milk to gel similar to yogurt, before the curds (the solids) separate from the whey (the liquid). The amount of rennet and time needed for it to separate into curds can vary from cheese to cheese.

Once it starts to gel, the cheesemakers cut it, which allows the whey to come out. Drier cheeses are often cut more to form smaller curds, so more of the moisture comes out, while curds cut less are larger and are moister. Once the curds are cut, they’re stirred and heated to release even more whey. At this point, the curd is separated from the whey, and it’s time to start making the cheese look more like cheese! Depending on the type of cheese, this can happen one of two ways:

The curd is salted, and then it’s pressed in a form. This is the case for Cheddar and Colby cheeses.
The curd is pressed into a hoop, which is brined. This occurs with mozzarella and Swiss cheeses.

While the cheese is pressed, more whey comes out, so it eventually becomes the shape and consistency of cheeses we know.

Once the cheese is shaped, it may be aged for a while before its ready to eat.


How Does Cheese Age?

November 7, 2016

More and more we want to know what goes into our food; what its made of, how its made, where the ingredients came from -- and if you're a cheese lover, you may have wondered: How does cheese age? How long does it take? What does it mean?

Let’s start at the beginning. All cheeses start with the same four basic ingredients (milk, cultures, a coagulant called rennet and salt) and different cheesemakers take it from there.

According to Dean Sommer, Cheese & Food Technologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Dairy Research, cheese ripening is a complex process. That’s because there are so many different factors that come into play.

For example, each variety of cheese is aged, or “ripened” as the experts call it, to a different degree. Some cheeses undergo little ripening (think of fresh cheeses like ricotta), while others experience more significant ripening that can be due to:

The good bacteria that’s added to the milk during the cheesemaking process (like in Cheddar and Swiss)
A mixture of yeasts and good bacteria that are applied to the outside of the cheese (Gruyere and Limburger)
Molds that are inside the cheese (Blue and Gorgonzola)
White molds that are on the outside of the cheese (Camembert and Brie)
Some extra enzymes in cheeses like Provolone or Romano for unique flavors

To one extent or another, these ripening methods break down the different components in cheese, which include milk proteins, milk fat and milk sugar (lactose). All of these factors ultimately determine the flavor and texture of the cheese. The breakdown is caused by enzymes, and how quickly a cheese ripens can be based on the cheese’s water content, temperature, salt content and more.

Cheese can be aged for several weeks or for several years. Back in 2012, a block of 40-year-old Cheddar made headlines when a cheese shop owner found it in the back of an old cooler. More recently, a 20-year-old Cheddar was selling for more than $200 a pound.


How to Keep Your Cheese Fresh

January 24, 2014

No matter if you’re a cheese connoisseur or simply love the basics, there are a few best practices you can keep in mind to keep your cheese safe and fresh.

Check them out:

Store cheese by wrapping it tightly in clinging plastic wrap to keep all air and moisture away from the surface.
Aromatic cheeses, such as Limburger, should be stored in tightly sealed containers.
If you see mold has formed on your natural, hard, block cheese, don’t worry. It’s not harmful and can be easily removed by cutting off at least an inch around the mold spot.


All About the Milk

June 1, 2016

We all know milk comes from cows, but how does it get to the store – and how can you be sure it’s safe? Milk is one of the most regulated foods you’ll find at the grocery store. Learn more about the farm-to-table process here, and listen to some of our farmers explain why milk is safe.

There are many safety practices in place that ensure milk’s freshness, purity and great taste.

All milk is tested for the most commonly used antibiotics upon delivery at a milk plant. Any milk that tests positive cannot be sold to the public.
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