There are four main steps in the cheese-making process:
1) Curdling – Separating the curds from the whey (from liquid milk in is raw and unpasteurized state) by adding a lactic starter and/or rennet.
2) Draining – Further removing the whey to achieve the desired moisture content for cheese being made.
3) Pressing – Applying pressure to form shapes and molds into the desired type of cheese.
4) Ripening – This is where the moisture, temperature, and oxygen of the cheese is closely monitored by cheese-agers to achieve the desired texture, flavor, and aroma. This could take a few hours to a few days depending on what type of cheese is attempted to be made.
Cheese seems pretty simple. We know it’s made from milk, but do you know what it takes to make it? Read this and appreciate the “power of cheese”.
Starter CultureAbout 2 cups of fresh milk is left to sit at room temperature for 24 hours until it curdles to the consistency of yogurt.
Prepare Milk2 gallons of milk is warmed to 86°F and the starter culture is blended in. This mixture is left overnight at a temperature of 50-60°F which will form lactic acid.
RennetRennet contains a milk-coagulating enzyme and is traditionally made from the inner lining of a calf’s stomach. Rennet is added to the milk to begin the formation of curd which, takes about 1 hour.
CurdsThe curd is then cut into small squares and stirred by hand. The curds(solids) and whey(liquid) are then slowly warmed to 102°F until the curd will hold its shape.
Cheese ClothThe curds are then separated from the whey by draining through cheese cloth. The curds are salted, mixed, and hung for an hour.
Shaping and DryingThe firming curd can then be shaped into a round wheel form and pressed overnight. It is then left to dry a few days as a rind starts to form.
Waxing and CuringThe entire wheel of cheese is sealed in paraffin wax and left to cure at 40-60°F. After 6 weeks of curing, the cheese will be firm and have a mild flavor. Sharp cheese requires 3-5 months of curing.
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