Cheese is one of the oldest and most popular foods in the world.
It’s delicious, nutritious, and versatile.
But how is cheese made?
In this post, we’ll take a quick look at the process of making cheese, from milk to curds to the finished cheese!
So whether you’re a cheese lover or just curious about this fascinating food, read on to learn more about the making of cheese!
Steps in Making of Cheese
Collection & Checking of Milk
Milk is a key ingredient in cheese making, and its quality is paramount. In order to produce high-quality cheese, milk must be collected and checked for purity and cleanliness.
After milking, the milk is typically pasteurized at 165ºF (73ºC) for 15 seconds.
Once pasteurized, the milk is transferred to a vat where it is heated until it reaches the acidity level required for the type of cheese being made.
The acidity of milk is important in preparing cheese because it helps to coagulate the milk proteins, which results in a firmer curd and a better final product.
Coagulation or Curdling
Coagulation is the process of turning milk into cheese.
It begins with adding an acid to milk, which causes the milk proteins to coagulate, or bond together.
This bonding forms a network that traps fat and water, creating a solid mass known as curds.
Rennet, a coagulant derived from the stomachs of ruminant mammals, is added to ensure that the protein and fat in the milk bond and are not lost in the whey.
The degree of coagulation determines the final moisture content of the cheese, this in tuen affects the speed of fermentation.
During cheesemaking, the liquid portion of milk (whey) is separated from the solid portion (curds).
This separation is typically accomplished using rennet, an enzyme that causes the milk to coagulate.
The way the curd and whey are separated are of great importance how the cheese will turn out to be. If the curd and whey are separated gently, you end up getting cheese which is soft and moist.
But cutting the curds will lead to the making of hard cheese. This is because the process expels more whey, leading to hardness.
As a rule, if you cut the curd fines, you will end up getting fine-grained (and hard) cheese.
Once the desired acidity is reached, the whey is drained off.
Shaping and Salting
The next step in making cheese is shaping and salting the cheese.
Shaping the cheese helps to give it its final shape and salt is added to help preserve the cheese and give it flavor.
There are many different ways to shape cheese. Some common methods include using a mold, pressing the cheese into a shape, or simply shaping it by hand.
The use of mold varies, the type of mold used will depend on the type of cheese being made.
For example, round molds are often used for making Camembert, while rectangular molds are better for Cheddar.
After the cheese has been shaped, salt is added.
This can be done by sprinkling salt on the surface of the cheese or by soaking the cheese in brine (a saltwater solution).
The amount of salt used is also an important factor and depends on the type of cheese and how long it will be aged.
For example, Parmesan is aged for two years and has a high level of salt because it needs to be stored for a long time without spoilage.
On the other hand, a fresh mozzarella only needs to be stored for a few days and can have a lower level of salt.
Aging of Cheese
Cheese ageing is an important process that contributes to the overall flavor and texture of the final product. Without ageing, cheese would be bland and rubbery.
The ageing process allows for the development of complex flavors and a unique texture.
As cheese ages, it undergoes a transformation that alters both its taste and texture.
This is a result of the breakdown of fatty acids and proteins into simpler molecules that are more easily detected by our taste buds.
This process is known as ripening, and it is accelerated by the presence of oxygen and certain bacteria.
The aging process also affects the texture of cheese. As cheese ages, it becomes harder and more crumbly due to the loss of moisture.
This is because the enzymes that break down fats and proteins also break down the casein proteins that give the cheese its structure.
The flavor of the cheese is affected by many factors, including the length of time it is aged and even the climate in which it is stored.
The flavors of aged cheese can range from earthy and nutty to tangy and sharp.
Role of affineur
The affineur is a key player in the cheesemaking process.
The affineur’s role is to age cheese to perfection, bringing out the best in each variety. Without the affineur, cheese would not reach its full potential in terms of flavor and texture.
Aging cheese is a delicate art, and one that requires a great deal of knowledge and experience.
The affineur must have a keen understanding of how different cheeses will develop over time, and be able to adjust the aging process accordingly.
This is no easy task, but it is essential in order to create truly exceptional cheese. The affineur also plays an important role in selecting the right cheeses for aging.
Not all cheeses are well-suited for extended aging, so it is important to choose those that will benefit most from the process.
In short, affineur helps in giving an identity to a cheese.
Here is a great video showing how traditional Stilton cheese is prepared –