Fermentation is a key process in the manufacturing of all types of cheese. The lactic acid producing microorganisms (LABs) in cheese ferment the lactose in milk to form the lactic acid.
This acid imparts the characteristic fresh acid flavor in curd, assists in rennet coagulation, and promotes the characteristic texture formation during the cheese making process.
All varieties of natural cheese are made from milk and they are classified into the following major categories:
These six types of cheese broadly classify the major categories of manufactured cheese
1. Soft cheese curd
- Retains a high proportion of moisture (whey) 55-80%
- Some varieties are eaten fresh (e.g. cambridge, bonderiete, coulomvier) while others such as brie and camembert are processed.
- They are ripened by the growth of surface moulds
2. Semi soft cheese
- Includes limburger, tilsit and brie.
- They are made from firmrer curds with 45-55% of moisture content.
- They are ripened/semi-ripened by the surface growth microorganisms especially Brevibacterium lineus.
3. Blue veined cheese
- Include roquefort, stilton and gorgonzola cheeses
- They are made from semi soft/semi hard curd with 42-52% moisture content
- They are ripened by species of penicillium moulds that grow within the cheese.
4. Semi hard cheeses
- These types of cheese include Edam and Gouda cheese
- Made from firmer curds with a moisture content ranging from 45-50%. The cheeses are ripened by bacteria and are consumed within 2-3 months.
5. Hard-pressed cheeses
- Includes cheddar and chesire cheeses.
- They are made from firm, dry curd with 35-45% moisture content.
- They are ripened by bacteria and mature slowly over a period of between 3-12 months.
- In some varieties (like cheddar and chesire), the acid is developed in curd before salting and pressing.
- In other varieties like emmenthal and gruyere, the acid is developed while the curd is draining and during pressing but before the salting is done.
6. Very hard grating cheeses
- Include parmesan, romano and asigo cheeses.
- They are made from very firm curd.
- They have very low moisture content of between 26-34% and are made from partly skimmed milk.
- They are ripened by bacteria slowly over a period of between 1-2 years
- The softness of cheese is determined by high moisture content, as well as high fat content and extensive proteolysis. Cheeses that have low moisture content, low fat content and do not experience proteolysis have firmer bodies.