Cheese making 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.
General Cheese-making Steps
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.
2. Milk Setting
Cool the milk to inoculation temperature of 25°C and inoculate with starter culture. Monitor the setting time.
3. Milk Renneting
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.
5. 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 (discussed below) depending on their hardness.
7. 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.
8. Molding and Pressing of the Curd
Molding helps to remove any moisture left in the cheese. Do the molding 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 mold sizes then mold and press for about 40 minutes while turning sides every 20 minutes (i.e. press every side for 20 minutes each).
Remove the molded curd from the molds 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.
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.
Here is a short video overview of the cheese making process. You can see all the steps outlined in this article in action (video by SomersetDairyCareers).
How to Make Mozzarella Cheese at Home
If you have been wondering how you can make mozzarella cheese at home, you have finally found the ultimate guide. This post will show you the exact steps you can follow to make mozzarella cheese at home.
Before we delve into the action-packed section, let us first make sure we are on the same platform by defining what mozzarella cheese really is. This is important considering that there very many types of cheeses.
Mozzarella is a pasta fillata (stretching cheese) type of fresh cheese.
It has a characteristic thin waxy texture with a whitish skin (outside) and a folded texture inside. When cut or pressed, mozzarella oozes a milky juice.
Mozzarella cheese has 2 varieties that include soft mozzarella (used in salads) and mozzarella pizza (pizza toppings).
Essentially, there are two main varieties of mozzarella cheese namely; soft mozzarella (used in salads) and mozzarella pizza (used as pizza toppings). These two varieties have very minimal differences.
Mozzarella is manufactured from rennet coagulated curd that is further subjected to lactic acid conditioning/modification. During the manufacturing process, quick curd acidification is desired to shorten production time.
You can achieve a quick curd acidification by using the fast acid producing Streptococcus thermophilus strains of bacteria.
Steps to make mozzarella cheese at home
You will need high quality standardized milk (10 litres), starter culture (with Streptococcus thermophilus strains), chymosin/rennet, knife/cheese knife, clean containers, chilled water, source of heat.
- Confirm that the acidity of the milk is about 0.14% of lactic acid.
- Pasteurize the milk using the low heat long time (LTLT) pasteurization regime because we do not want to denature the milk proteins. If this happens, curdling may not take place properly.
- After pasteurization, cool the milk down to about 37°C.
- Activate the starter culture by pre-inoculating in two liters of the milk drawn from the batch. After activation, add the active starter into the batch and allow to ripen for 45 minutes before adding chymosin (2%). Remember to keep the temperature constant.
- It is now time to inoculate rennet and allow to set. I advice that you follow the manufacturer’s instruction on the usage of rennet. Allow to set for 45 minutes.
- Cut the curd using cheese knife/wire to produce 2 cubic centimeter cubes of the curd.
- After cutting, allow to heal for 5 minutes and then gently stir for 15 minutes
- Now allow time for curd acidification. Transfer the curd onto a tray/drainage table. Remember to keep some whey over the curd until the pH lowers to between 5.3 and 5.2 (or 0.5% lactic acid). This will take approximately 4 hours.
- Drain the whey, cut the curd into blocks and turn upside down. Do not disturb it but keep monitoring the acidity until it reaches a pH of 5.0.
- Stretch the curd in hot water (75-85°C) for 10-15 minutes. The temperature of the curd should be between 60-65°C at this time. You may choose to salt the cheese at this point to a concentration of 0.2-0.4% in the cheese mass.
- Now mould the cheese into the desired shape and harden by immersing in chilled water for 15-20 minutes.
- If you did not salt the cheese during stretching, you can now salt it in 10% NaCl brine solution at 15°C until it attains 0.2-0.4% salt concentration. (Ignore this if you already salted during stretching).
- Your cheese is ready. You can package it in sealed bags containing sterilized water or other special ingredients.
Now that you’ve learned how to make mozzarella cheese at home, it is about time you enjoyed your product.
6 Types of Cheese and Their Distinguishing Features
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.
Do not forget to share with your friends so that they too can learn to make their own fresh mozzarella cheese at home and know how to distinguish between different cheeses.