Cheese's popular, right? We like to serve it as an appetizer or side dish with pasta or potatoes, or as a wine-friendly snack. Even though everyone loves cheese, few know how it's made. We've dispelled some myths about cheesemaking. We'll discuss cheesemaking ingredients and steps. Next time you eat cheese, think about the time and effort that went into it.
Types of Cheese:
All cheeses start with milk, which gives them their textures and flavors. All cheeses contain milk, but the type varies. Common cheese-making milks are:
- Cow’s Milk
- Goat’s Milk
- Sheep’s Milk
- Buffalo Milk
Regional specialty cheeses can be made with obscure milks. For example, camel’s milk is the basis for the South African caracane cheese. Other cheeses use horse or yak milk. Milk doesn't magically become cheese. A coagulant helps milk form curds. Acid or rennet are common coagulants. Rennet is a bioprocessed enzyme complex.
Traditional rennet cheeses use rennin, the enzyme rennet mimics. Rennin, also called chymosin, helps calves and other mammals digest milk. Cheese is made with milk, coagulant, and flavorings like salt, brine, herbs, spices, and wine. Different aging processes can change the flavor of cheeses made with the same ingredients.
Cheese Making Process:
Follow the below given steps to make cheese.
For perfect cheese, you need perfect milk. "Just right" varies by cheese, so many cheesemakers standardize their milk. Changing the protein-to-fat ratio may help. Pasteurization or mild heat is often used. Heating the milk kills organisms that could spoil the cheese and helps starter cultures grow. Once pasteurized, the milk is cooled to 90°F to add starter cultures. Adding starter cultures to raw milk requires heating to 90°F.
Next, acidify the milk with starter cultures. Left long enough, milk will acidify on its own. Many bacteria can sour milk. Modern cheese-making standardizes this step, instead of letting milk sour naturally. Cheesemakers acidify milk with starter and non-starter cultures. At this point, the milk should be 90°F and must stay there for 30 minutes to ripen. During ripening, milk pH drops and cheese flavor develops.
Cheesemakers must start manipulating the texture of the liquid milk. Milk can naturally curdle. Calves, piglets, and kittens produce rennin in their stomachs to digest their mother's milk. Cheesemakers control this process. Cheesemakers used to use natural rennin to curdle milk, but now they use lab-created rennet. Rennet converts kappa casein to para-kappa-casein. This reaction coagulates milk into curds. As curd solidifies, whey is produced.
Curds and whey ferment until pH reaches 6.4. In the cheese-making vat, the curd should have coagulated. Cheesemakers use long curd knives to cut through the curds. Cutting the curd increases its surface area, allowing it to separate more. Cheesemakers cut the curd vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. Cut curd size affects cheese moisture. Larger curd chunks retain more moisture, leading to a moister cheese, while smaller chunks lead to a drier cheese.
Cut curd is processed further. Cooking, stirring, or both may be required. All of this processing separates curds and whey. As they're processed, curds acidify and release moisture. More cooking and stirring makes cheese drier. Washing curd is another option. Washing curd means removing whey. This affects flavor and texture. Washed curd cheeses are elastic and mild-tasting. Gouda, havarti, and Swedish fontina are washed-curd cheeses.
Now that the curds and whey are separated, remove the whey. This means draining the vat of whey, leaving only curd. Depending on how finely the curd was cut, these chunks could be big or small. After draining the whey, the curd should resemble a mat. Whey draining methods vary. Cheesemakers sometimes let it naturally drain. Cheesemakers often use a mold or press for harder cheeses that require less moisture. Pressing curd squeezes out more whey.
Curd should form a large slab after whey is drained. Some cheeses require further whey removal. It's called cheddaring. Cheesemakers stack curd slabs after cutting the curd mat into sections. Stacking slabs squeezes out moisture. Cheesemakers periodically cut and stack curd slabs. More whey is removed from the curd as the process continues, resulting in a denser, crumblier cheese. Cheesemaking involves fermentation. Curd pH should be 5.1 to 5.5. Cheesemakers mill curd slabs into smaller pieces when they're ready.
The curd is turning into cheese. Salting or brining the cheese at this point adds flavor. This can involve dry salt or brine. Mozzarella is brined. Dry-salted cheeses are harder. Some cheeses have additional flavorings. Horseradish, garlic, paprika, habanero, and cloves are cheese spices. Cheese can contain dill, basil, chives, or rosemary. Cheese flavors are limitless. Many cheeses focus on developing natural flavors and adding salt to intensify them.
At this point, the cheese needs no more ingredients and can be shaped. Here, the final product emerges. Curd is soft and malleable even after being dried out. Cheesemakers can press curd into molds to make standard shapes. Baskets and hoops are molds. Baskets are one-sided molds, and hoops only wrap around the curd's sides. In either case, milled curd is pressed into a mold and left to solidify. Usually round or rectangular.
For some cheeses, the process is over, but for many, aging remains. Controlled, cool conditions are best for aging. Molecular changes cause cheese to harden and flavor to intensify as it ages. The aging process can take days or decades. In some cases, mold gives cheese a unique color and flavor. Once the cheese has aged, it can be eaten.
Cheese is sold by the wedge, block, or wee. If you know how much time, effort, and care went into making your favorite cheese, it will taste even better.
What Makes Fresh Cheese?
Now that we've covered cheese's general production, you may be curious about specific types. Fresh cheese, perhaps? Smooth, creamy, mild-flavored fresh cheeses are common. Fresh cheeses like feta, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella are not aged.
Fresh cheeses must still go through the majority of the above steps. Cottage cheese is made by draining whey from curds and whey. Other fresh cheeses require further straining and packing to remove more moisture. Some home cooks make fresh cheese because it's easier.
How Is The Cheese Aged?
Aging cheese isn't just leaving it alone. Even subtle changes can affect the cheese's texture and flavor. Cheeses age in cool, humid environments. Cheese ripens when it ages. Two ripening types exist:
These cheeses are protected by a wax or other artificial rind. This causes inner-aging. Cheddar and swiss are interior-ripened cheeses.
Because these cheeses aren't sealed, bacteria develop a natural rind. The cheese ages from the outside in. Surface-ripened cheeses include Brie and Muenster.