Category Archives: General

The Ultimate Mac & Cheese

Are you a fan of Mac & Cheese? Take a look at our infographic and find out what you can do to take it up a notch next time you’re in the kitchen!

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How Cheese Is Made

A History of How Cheese is Made

Cheese is really an ancient food and is thought to have been around for over 2000 years. The story goes that cheese was discovered by accident when a nomadic traveller crossed the desert with milk stored in a bag lined with an animal’s stomach. The milk separated into curds and whey and hey presto cheese was born!

We explore how cheese is made
We explore how cheese is made, including the different processes for different cheeses

How Cheese is Made: The Beginning

The process of cheese making always starts with the same first steps: which is taking milk from a cow, sheep or goat (and occasionally buffalo, camel and even moose!) and separating that milk into the curds (the solid part) and the whey (the liquid part), using a process called curdling.

You achieve this by adding a fermenting agent, traditionally an animal rennet but more commonly with a vegetarian rennet now, so that vegetarians can also eat the cheese. Sometimes a lactic starter is added instead of rennet, or sometimes both are used depending on the type of cheese being created.

 

How Are Different Types of Cheeses Created?

From here, it is the hundreds of small differences in the processes that follow which creates the many different types of cheeses you see today and their unique flavours and textures. Generally all cheeses go through the same 4 processes detailed below.

How Cheese is Made – The 4 Main Processes

  1. Curdling – as described above
  2. Draining – The removing of the whey to varying degrees depending on the cheese being made
  3. Pressing – Shaping the curds by pressing them into forms or moulds.
  4. Ripening – Leaving the cheese to ripen /mature over a set length of time.

It is the differences in these last 3 processes especially that produces the vast array of different cheeses available.

 

How Are Soft/Fresh Cheeses Made?

Soft cheese is generally created by using a lactic starter to curdle the milk, producing fine grains of curd. With the exception of Feta Cheese, soft and fresh cheeses are not pressed or ripened. Mozzarella is treated slightly differently. To create Mozzarella, the curds are submerged into hot water and then stretched.

 

How Are Semi-Soft/Semi Crumbly Cheeses Made?

Here, lactic acid and rennet are both used together to separate the curds from the whey with these types of cheeses, to create their unique textures. After this, the curds are cut into big cubes, which helps to lock in moisture.

With cheeses like Brie Cheese, the rind is covered with a mould. This gives the cheese a soft bloomy rind and helps to ripen the inside of the cheese.

 

How Are Semi-Firm / Firm Cheeses Made?

Firm and semi-firm cheeses are generally created by using a rennet to separate the milk into large grains of curd. These curds are then heated to make them set. Finally the curds are left to ripen for between 3-24 months. Different maturing times will produce different flavours and textures in the cheeses. For example a 24 month vintage mature cheddar cheese will taste stronger and more crumbly than a cheddar matured for just 3 months.

 

How is Blue Cheese Made?

With blue cheese, a mould called Penicillium Roqueforti is added to the milk. The mixture is then left for usually around 6 weeks before it is poked with several stainless steel needles. This allows oxygen into the cheese to promote the growth of mould, giving the cheeses the distinct blue veining.

Blue cheese is made differently to other cheeses
Blue cheese is made differently to other cheeses

Is Cheese Always Pasteurised?

Nowadays, the milk used to make cheese is generally pasteurised. However, you can still get unpasteurised cheese from local farm shops and artisan cheese sellers. Many cheese purists believe that you get a better flavour from unpasteurised cheese.