What is the process of cheese production?
Components in Cheesemaking
Milk – The various cheese of the world first owe their character and taste to the type of milk used – double cream, toned, or skimmed milk. The character also greatly depends on the what animal the milk came from – cow, goat, ewe, or water buffalo.
Starter – If left in a warm place, milk will sour by itself. This souring is due to the action of bacteria on the milk sugar, lactose, and its conversion to lactic acid or sour milk. To speed up the process of souring and to prevent the milk from becoming bitter and unpleasantly sour, a little warm sour milk from the previous day’s milk is added to this batch. This speeds up or starts the process of coagulation, and is known as the starter or starter culture. In the case of pasteurized milk, all bacteria is killed, and hence the starter consists of a combination of cultures grown in the lab.
Rennet – Although the starter culture speeds up the process of souring milk, and would eventually cause it to curdle, it produces quite a sharp, acidic taste. The use of rennet, which is an enzyme from the inner lining of young hoofed animals like lambs and calves, significantly improves the product. Rennet also helps break down the curd into a smooth, even consistency, contributing to the texture and flavour.
Method of production
- Preparation of milk
- Milk is one of the prime ingredient was making cheese, it is a high protein dairy product made from the milk of animals like cows, sheep, goat, buffalo, yak etc.
- Prior to manufacture process, milk needs to be prepared, this is done by pasteurizing the milk, homogenizing it and then clarifying it.
2. Addition of starter
This is done by two methods:
- In sour milk cheese lactic acid bacteria thickens the milk and
sweet milk cheeses (most cheeses are of this kind), which are also called rennet cheeses. For this the cheese maker adds rennet an enzyme taken from the stomach of suckling calves to separate solids in the milk from the fluid.
- The rennet causes the milk protein to build up and the milk to curdle without the milk turning sour. In this method all other solid particles like fat, protein and vitamins get encompassed. Most of the rennet used today in cheese making comes from the lining of a calf’s stomach.
3. Formation of Coagulum
- Addition of starter leads to coagulation of milk into a thick mass called ‘young curd’ and separation of whey.
- When the process is complete the liquid whey is drained off and the solid mass of curd or coagulated milk protein is used to make cheese. At this stage this is called as ‘firm curd’.
- Firm curd is cut into smaller pieces by use of knives or chains.
- The size of the cut will be dictated by the type and recipe of cheese. In most countries this process is carried out manually.
This process is carried out for hard cheeses.
5. Stirring/ Scalding
- This process is also carried out for hard cheeses. It expels more whey and shrinks the curd.
- This process also speeds up the bacterial metabolism.
- Salt is added into the cheese by the wet or dry method as per the recipe.
- Brining in some cheeses also leads to longevity in shelf life
7. Moulding or Vatting and Pressing
- After salting cheese is put in moulds for it to acquire a particular shape.
- This can be done in plastic or wooden moulds
- The cheese is pressed which gives it a definite shape.
- In case of blue chesses, pressing is not done.
- Cheese is de-moulded and a rind or coating is given to the cheese. This process includes coating, wrapping or bandaging the cheese.
- The softer cheeses acquire a natural rind while it matures.
- In some cases rind is dried by rubber ash, use of grape must and wrapping it in leaves.
- Such as Gorgonzola which is coated with plaster of Paris
9. Ripening/ Maturing
- Mostly the harder cheeses are matured. They are matured in caves. A hard cheese can take anything from 8 weeks to a year to ripen and mature.
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