many types of cheese can be found around the world, so the recipes and processes for making them vary greatly. Despite the variety of cheeses, recipes, and procedures, several basic steps are often involved in the cheesemaking process. Starter cultures and rennet are added to milk to begin the curdling process, resulting in curd and whey. The curds and whey are handled further and then salted, shaped and matured to make cheese.
The initial process of making cheese involves the addition of cultures and rennet to milk. The type of both milk and cultures can vary from cheese to cheese. Starter cultures are bacteria that are used to produce different flavors in cheese. Cultures also start the process of converting lactose to lactic acid, commonly known as acidification. An enzyme known as can be added as well to further aid the process.
Shelf aged cheese wheels.
Once the acidification process has taken place, curds and whey will have formed from the original milk. The curds will result in cheese after the entire cheese making process is complete. Depending on the type of cheese being made, the curds can be cut, cheddared, or cooked. Cutting the curds allows them to release more moisture, resulting in a harder cheese. Cheddar cheese is made to create small curds that form in molds, and cooking the curds involves heating them to produce a more tender cheese.
Salting accomplishes two things in the cheesemaking process: it flavors the cheese and it preserves it during the aging process. Cheeses get their flavors from a variety of sources, one of which is salt added to the curds during the cheesemaking process. To preserve cheese during the aging process, salt can be rubbed on the formed cheese or a rag that has been dipped in brine can be rubbed over the cheese.
Havarti cheese slice.
Shaping the cheese involves pouring the cheese curd into various molds to give it the shape of the cheese. Specific molds are used for some varieties of cheese. Ripening is usually the final stage of the cheese-making process. This step consists of letting the cheese mature in ideal conditions. The area in which the cheese is placed to mature is controlled to maintain the temperature and humidity at optimum levels. For some cheeses, additional steps are taken in the ripening process, such as injecting mold into the air, placing mold in or around the cheese, or washing the cheese with certain solutions.