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The Cheese Making Process

The Cheese Making Process

The cheesecloth-lined colander set over a bowl is one system that will separate the curds and whey during cheese production.

Culinary Institute of America

For the most part, the only changes in cheese making since the early days have been in understanding how we can control the complicated interaction of various biological agents and processes, all integral to cheese making. The basic stages in the modern production process are:

• Milk and its pretreatment, including homogenizing, pasteurizing, or heating
• Acidification of milk, to change the pH level
• Coagulating (curdling) the milk to create curds
• Separating the curds and whey
• Salting the curds
• Shaping, cutting, or molding the curds into their appropriate shapes
• Ripening

Considering how few ingredients are needed to make cheese, there is astonishing variety in the types of cheeses that can be produced. Hundreds of distinct cheeses can be made by introducing only slight modifications: Choosing sheep’s milk instead of cow’s; using a different starter culture; draining the cheese a little more or less; cutting the curds very fine or leaving them whole or in slabs; rubbing the cheese with salt at a different point in the process; or shaping it into a disk, wheel, or round will produce different cheeses, with unique textures, flavors, and aromas.

Different steps applied during the ripening process can play a critical role as well: The rind may be washed with brine or coated with wax, additional molds or cultures can be introduced directly to the cheese or applied to the surface, and so forth.

1. Picking your Milk
2. Acidification of the Milk
3. Coagulating the Milk
4. Separating the Curds and Whey
5. Salting
6. Shaping
7. Ripening

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