How cheese is made – The ABCs of Cheese

Cheese making is an art. In this short post we want to explain you how cheese is made

A variety of features, all inseparably linked, contribute to its final result: type of milk used,  territory, production process, climate, feeding, history and passion behind the producer – these are all factors that contribute to this delicious food item we all crave!

Although only a handful of “traditional” Italian cheeses are well known to many, Italy is one of the top producer of cheese varieties is the world. Geographically speaking, a relatively “small” territory, the country offers a  multiplicity of forms, flavors, colors, textures are found capable to satisfy every taste and need. Canada, US, France, Germany, Switzerland… really name any country at all and each and every one of them produces their own specialty of cheese.

So how is cheese really made?

Derived from milk, using acid (aka rennet) obtained through the use of ferments, cheese is one of the most widely consumed food items. Various types of milk can be used – among them the most commonly used one include: cow’s milk , sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. Milk can also be obtained from other animals such as buffalo, reindeer, camels and others. Let just stick to the most common ones – cow, sheep and goat will do for now!

The process of cheese manufacturing essentially follows three basic steps. 

Milk coagulation.

This is done by heating the milk to a temperature of 35 – 38 ° C which activates the formation of a “starter” culture that increase the population of beneficial bacteria. This is followed by the addition of rennet which is generally extracted from the animal’s stomach – perhaps the process may not sound as the most delicious one, but I guarantee the end result is worth it all!In this phase the agglomeration of most of the fats present in the milk, also know as curd, takes place. This will then give rise to cheese.

Curd cutting.

Curd cutting has the purpose of facilitating the removal of the whey; the degree of cutting determines the type of cheese: the smaller the pieces that are formed, the greater the amount of whey removed and a drier, harder cheese will be obtained. To obtain even harder textures, the curd is heated to 48-55 ° C. The heat facilitates the separation of the whey from the cloth. The curd pieces derived from the cutting are then transferred into perforated forms that will determine the final shape of the cheese. 

Salting and aging.

The next step entails the transfer of the curd into into perforated forms. They stand for a certain period of time and are salted and cured. These latter operations are different for each type of cheese. The process of maturing takes place in strictly controlled environmental conditions with strict focus on temperature and humidity as they are able to determine many of the typical organoleptic characteristics of the cheese. 

Cheeses are generally classified according to the following parameters:  the type of milk, the fat content, the consistency of the paste, the type of rind and the aging process. 

If you are curious about any of these types of cheeses, ranging from fresh cheeses such as mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella up to medium and long ripened cheeses such as the authentic Parmigiano Reggiano, Bitto and various types of pecorino with medium aging periods. Blue cheeses are also popular among the foodies out there, so if you’re a lover check out our website!

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