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We know that many of our customers are cheese lovers, but do you know the answer to the question ‘How is cheese made?’?
Read on to find out more about various cheese making processes and learn the methods that are present in some of our favorite cheeses.
Basics: How is cheese made?
All cheese starts out as milk. Various different types of milk may be used, but the most common ones are cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk.
Making cheese is a good way of preserving milk to make it last longer, as well as being a delicious treat.
Most of the milk is comprised of water, which must be removed in order to create cheese. This involves separating the curds (solid) from the liquid (whey). The milk is gently heated and cultures are added to make it curdle. An enzyme, rennet is also added to bring the proteins of the milk together and help to form the curd.
The set curd is cut into small pieces to allow more of the water to leave the cheese. The curds will settle and the whey will be drained off. Salt is added as a preservative and for flavor, and then the curds are pressed into molds.
Most cheeses will be pressed for a number of days to remove the last of the whey and bring the curds together. They will then be removed from the press and put into storage to mature.
How is cheese made? The maturing process
Cheeses will mostly be matured anywhere from 1 to 15 months. There are some cheeses that benefit from years of aging as they are quite dry. Some cheeses, such as halloumi and ricotta, can be eaten on the day that they are made.
Some cheeses, such as mozzarella, involve stretching the curd in hot water until you create the soft, layered texture that we recognize in this cheese.
Different environments create different effects on how cheese is made. There must be good air circulation to promote the aging process. Humidity and temperature also play a role in how the cheese matures. The humidity prevents the cheese from cracking before it has developed its flavor.
Soft-ripened cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert, are exposed to mold which causes them to ripen from the outside inwards.
Washed-rind cheeses, such as Limburger, will be cured periodically in a solution of saltwater brine. This makes it open to bacteria which produce a hard rind and a pungent odor. They can also be washed in solutions containing spices or alcohols to impart more flavor.
Blue cheeses have penicillium bacteria added to create the blue veins of mold running through the cheese. This then grows as the cheese ages. Depending on the aging process, this may create a soft or hard cheese.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our basic explanation of the cheese making process. Now, when someone asks you ‘how is cheese made?’, you’ll know the answer. Have you ever made cheese? Let us know in the comments!