Developing a cheese

20 Feb 2014


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Developing a cheeseSince ancient times, man has been confronted with the problem of conserving food. You can all agree that fresh milk “turns” after a few days or within a few hours at room temperature. In other words, when it breaks and you can see the separation of liquid and a forming of white mass.

The primary means of giving a precise characteristic to cheese comes from the milk; it is also the first step of the cheese-making process.

There are three principal kinds of milk:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Goat’s milk
  • Ewe or sheep’s milk

Each brings with it a particular flavor, which again reinforces the exterior elements. Discover the different steps to develop a cheese:

1. Coagulation: The curdling of milk is known to all and it is necessary to leave the milk to age for it to curdle. We can accelerate this process by incorporating lactic acids or rennet. Rennet is found in the stomach of a young calf. This chemical reaction causes the casein of the milk to curdle. From this a sort of white cheese that floats in a liquid known as whey, is obtained. Next it is necessary to separate these two elements.

2. Draining: Several techniques are used. The oldest method is to strain the coagulated milk through cheesecloth, a filter that preserves the curds. Other industrial methods have made their appearance, such as centrifuge (separator) or ultra-filtering. The curds will undergo heating, which will define their category.

  • 52-55 °C cooked, pressed, hard cheese
  • 39 °C uncooked, pressed cheese
  • 25-30 °C uncooked, unpressed soft cheese

The curds have undergone their first change. It is now essential to give a form to the future cheeses.

3. Molding: The curds are placed into different molds. We will find them in cylinders, 30 cm high for Camembert. For Emmental, they will place the curds in a large mold and press to form a cheese with a pressed cooked texture.

4. Salting: This is the most delicate step. Salting was originally applied to improve the preservation of cheese. Since then we have seen other benefits that have played a role in the development of bacteria cultures. Salting also gives cheese its look and final taste. Salt is introduced either in its composition or on its surface.

5. Maturing: Cheese is best aged in a cool and humid atmosphere. By slowly aging, the flavours are allowed to fully develop and affirm themselves for consumption. The aging process is different, depending on the category of cheese. Soft-textured cheeses age within 6-8 weeks, where as pressed-cooked cheeses age within one month to as long as two years. Pierced cheeses (bleu and Roquefort) are aged often in caves situated on the side of mountains. The cheeses are pierced with a needle in order to introduce fungus that will develop the blue vein in the interior of the cheese. Washing cheeses, which have a soft texture, with a watery solution permits one to obtain a washed rind or skin (Époisses, Livarot, Pont-l’Évêque). Aging can be more or less accelerated depending on the temperature of the location.

Institut des Hautes Etudes du Goût, de la Gastronomie et des des Arts de la Table

  • Phone: +33 6 60 46 40 81
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