Cheese making process is a very delicate process. It requires precision and discipline by ensuring that you do the right thing at the right time.
Ensure you use only good quality raw milk. You should check for inhibitory substances, standardization efficiency and protein thermal stability by carrying out starter culture activity test, butterfat content test, and alcohol test respectively.
The cheese making process is a detailed undertaking that takes into account many factors. Quality control is critical.
The following steps outline the actions involved during cheese making.
Use only low temperature pasteurization regime where the milk is heated to 63°C for 30 minutes or 72°C for 15 seconds to kill all the pathogens but preserve most serum proteins.
After pasteurization, confirm the efficiency of pasteurization by conducting the alkaline phosphatase test. Check for coliforms in the pasteurized milk to be sure of post-pasteurization contamination/hygiene.
Cool the milk to inoculation temperature of 25°C and inoculate with starter culture. Monitor the setting time.
After setting milk for about 30 minutes, add rennet at the rate of 3 grams for every 100 litres of milk. Check the setting time within 45 minutes. Addition of rennet can be omitted when working with acid curd. Rennet lessens demineralization of the curd, which is a common problem with acidified curd.
Cutting the Curd
Cut the curd to about 7 mm cubes using the cheese knives. Smaller cubes provide higher surface area to volume ratio for effective and efficient syneresis of the curd.
Note: You can add salt at this stage or wait until after you have made the cheese block and then dip the block into the brine. We will look at the brining process in a little while.
After cutting the curd, allow the curd to settle for about five minutes. Pitching is a critical step in the cheese making process, as it allows for the whey to drain from the curd. This reduces the bulkiness of the curd and facilitates manufacturing of different types of cheeses depending on their hardness.Pitching allows the #whey to drain from the curd. #cheesemaking #cheese Click To Tweet
Cooking the Curd
Gently stir the curd for about 10 – 15 minutes to facilitate whey separation without further breaking it down and to harden the curd. Cooking is done on all ripened cheeses and the length of the cooking time depends on the type of cheese one is making.
Drain about a third of the whey and then continue the cooking process using water at temperatures of between 60-65°C. increase the temperature of the curd/whey at the rate of 1°C every 50 minutes until you attain a temperature of 39°C. at this time, the temperature of the cooking water should be about the same as the temperature of the curd/whey. Continue to stir the curd gently at 39°C for about 30 minutes.
Moulding and Pressing of the Curd
Moulding helps to remove any moisture left in the cheese. Do the moulding according to the shape of the cheese you want to make.
Drain all the whey and press the curd in the vat using weights. Ensure you do the first pressing for about 15 to 20 minutes.
During the second pressing, chop the curd according to the mould sizes then mould and press for about 40 minutes while turning sides every 20 minutes (i.e. press every side for 20 minutes each).
Remove the moulded curd from the moulds and allow to cool for the overnight in the ripening room at temperatures of between 11 – 13°C.
After the curd has cooled in the ripening room for a day, immerse it in 16-20% brine solution on the sides. Leave them in the brine for 1-2 days.
Brining is an important step in the cheese making process because the brine will not only improve the keeping quality of cheese but also impart flavor to the product.
Keep the brined curd in the ripening room at 11 – 13°C to undergo ripening for 6 weeks.
P.S. Permitted additives that you can use during cheese making also include CaCl2. Use low levels of this additives (between 5 – 20g/100 liters of milk) because the milk may have inadequate calcium. When you add too much of this additive (more than 20g/100 liters), the curd will get very hard.