How is Cheese Made?

by Travis Loncar on November 1, 2011


Here at Penn Mac, we love our cheeses – both domestic and American cheeses and foreign cheeses. As far as we’re concerned, eating cheese is much more than a weekend hobby. For us, it’s a lifestyle. This begs the question – where would we be without cheese production? I guess the best answer that I can think of is “looking for something else to eat habitually.” But hey, that’s not a happy place. I mean, how could a world without cheese be in the least bit happy? Great question, right? …Okay, maybe not, but you get my drift. It’s high time that we stop taking the privilege of eating cheese for granted and show some appreciation! Without further ado, I give you the 8 steps of cheese production.

how-cheese-is-made

Source: http://www.modeldmedia.com/features/cheese51110.aspx

1. Intake of Milk

Here’s an interesting little tidbit. In order to produce one pound of cheese, roughly ten whole pounds of milk are required! Pretty crazy, I know, but factual nonetheless. As milk is being taken in, its quality and purity must satisfy certain requirements so that it can be used in the cheese-making process.

2. Standardization

In this step, the milk is treated to establish product uniformness. This can mean multiple things, including weighing, heat treatment, or pasteurization.

3. Milk Culturing and Clotting

Believe it or not, there is a such thing as “good” bacteria. In this part of the process, this “good” bacteria (otherwise known as a starter culture) is mixed into the milk, which gets the actual cheese forming process going. Next, the milk is clotted using a coagulant, which causes the milk to curdle up and take shape.

4. Cutting the Cheese

Once the milk begins to solidify into curds, it is sliced away from the whey (or liquid) and cut into small pieces.

making-cheddar-cheese

Source: http://hartkeisonline.com/food-tradition/english-territorial-cheeses/

5. Cooking & Stirring

The cooking and stirring process continues until the curds have reached the preferred temperature and hardness. Once this is complete, the whey is drained away, leaving the solidified curd.

6. Crafting the Curd

This is where the real magic is made. Depending on the way the cheese maker handles and salts the curd, the cheese can go in many different directions. Whether it’s a Greek cheese or an Italian cheese, it all started with a simple curd!

7. Pressing the Curd

Now it’s time to press the curd into its final form and watch the cheese take shape. The pressing process can take anywhere from three to twelve hours and depends largely upon the size of the curd being pressed.

8. Curing the Cheese

In some cases (depending on the specific type of cheese and other factors), the cheese may be cured (or aged in controlled humidity) for several years. This helps to fully develop texture and flavor.

Thanks to Eat Wisconsin Cheese for providing an awesome basis for the information in this post!

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