Cheese Production

Introduction image

Cheese production also refers to as “Caseiculture”. It makes the use of raw materials, bacterial culture along with rennet to process the end-product, i.e. cheese. Cheese comes in different varieties by the difference in ingredients and the processing of cheese. Cheesemaking can accomplish by using milk, either in a raw or pasteurized form.

Depending upon the processing method, cheese can classify into two types, namely rennet and processed cheese. The process of cheese making involves sequential steps like acidification, coagulation, separation of curd and whey, salting, moulding, ageing and packaging.

Content: Cheese Production

  1. Definition
  2. Production Process

Definition of Cheesemaking

Cheesemaking can define as the production of cheese by the use of bacterial culture, enzymes, stabilizers to condense the milk proteins and fat and to preserve them. The formation of cheese requires milk as a raw material. The production of acid as a result of fermentation by the starter culture and the salting step mainly give the cheese its longevity. Cheese is the milk product that forms by the coagulation of milk protein (Casein). The production of cheese is a lengthy procedure to carry out which involves high maintenance and cleanliness of the equipment, long time etc.

Production Process of Cheese

The production of cheese includes the following sequential steps:

Cheese making

Sterilization

Like every industrial production, the process of cheese making also requires a sterile environment to avoid any microbial contamination.

Standardization of milk

Milk is used as a raw material for the cheese production that can be obtained from the source of animals producing milk like a cow, buffalo, goat etc. The milk should be free of any off flavours, microbial contamination, antibiotics and chemical contaminants.

The standardization is a process where the milk is subjected to centrifugation for the clarification of the small exogenous particles or somatic cells. This step generally optimizes the protein and fat ratio of the milk to produce superior quality cheese.

Pasteurization of milk

It reduces the spoilage organisms and improves the environment for the growth of starter cultures. Cheese produced from raw milk requires ageing for a maximum of 60 days. After pasteurization or heating, the milk is cooled to the temperature needed for the growth of starter culture.

Inoculation of starter culture

The starter culture is then added to the milk and subjected at 90 Degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes to ripen. Different cheese requires different starter culture like for the production of cheddar cheese, the strains of Streptococcus bacteria (S lactis or S cremoris) are being used.

Nowadays, concentrated frozen starter cultures are also available in the market, which can be directly added to the milk. The ripening step allows bacterial growth to start the fermentation process. Milk must be free from any antibiotics for the bacteria to carry out the fermentation.

The presence of antibiotic may cause retardation in the growth of the starter culture and the production of acid that will finally produce inferior quality cheese. Thus, the proper growth of starter culture lowers the pH of the media (by the formation of acid) and develops more flavour in the cheese.

Addition of rennet

It is an enzyme that mediates the curdling of milk. Rennet functions as a coagulant. It coagulates the colloid casein to insoluble paracasein and carbohydrate-rich peptide fraction. Allow the milk left undisturbed for about 30 minutes to get a firm coagulum.

The alternative sources for the rennet enzyme are the blends of rennin and pepsin, fungi-based coagulants etc. Fungi-based coagulants are widely used in the United States, which includes the fungal strains like Mucor pusillus, Endothia parasitica etc.

Cutting of curd

Allow the coagulum to ferment till it reaches a pH (6.4). Then, the coagulum (curd) is fractioned into small cubes with a cheese cutter. This step allows easy separation of whey out of the curd. The coagulum fractioned into small cubes will produce low moisture cheese, while the large cubes will produce high moisture cheese.

Cooking the coagulum

The fractions of coagulum are then heated upto 38 degrees Celsius for the desired time that usually differs in the different type of cheese. The cooking involves stirring of the whey-curd mixture to obtain a compact mass of coagulum. This step is necessary for the following:

  • For the control of acid production by the starter culture.
  • To suppress the growth of spoilage microorganisms.
  • To influence the curd texture.
  • It also controls the amount of moisture content.

Draining whey

After cooking the whey-curd mixture, drain out the whey from the vat. The curd obtained after the removal of whey appears as a knitted mat. The knitting of curd is a step which contributes to the texture by modifying the curd particles to adhere by producing a compact mass of cheese.

Brining

It is a process where salt acts as a stabilizer that increases the shelf life of the cheese. Salt can be either sprinkled over the loose curd or the freshly made cheese can be dipped in the brine solution. Brining is a step necessary for the cheese making:

  • It suppresses the growth of spoilage microorganisms
  • It also reduces the amount of moisture in the finished cheese.
  • Salting contributes to the characteristic cheese flavour and texture.

Pressing of curd

After brining, the curd fractions are kept in the cheese hoops. Generally, hydraulic pressure is applied to the coagulum. In cheese with an open texture, this step can be skipped. In cheddar cheese, piling is done before pressing where the fractions of curd are placed on the top of each other and flipped periodically by a process commonly refers to as “Cheddaring”. This step expels more whey, provides compactness, and characteristic shape to the cheese.

Ripening

The cheese is stored in a cool and dry place, under controlled temperature and humidity until the desired age. It can be aged for several months to years. This step allows enzymatically induced changes in the protein and fat fractions of cheese, by contributing to give a typical flavour, aroma, texture etc. to the cheese.

Packaging

Cheese may be cut and packaged into blocks with appropriate labelling of brand’s name along with the nutritional facts, market price, manufacturing date, expiry date etc.

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