Cheese Background Cheese is a fermented food derived from the milk of various mammals.

Since humans began to domesticate milk-producing animals around 10,000 B.C. , they have known about the propensity of milk to separate into curds and whey. As milk sours, it breaks down into curds, lumps of phosphoprotein, and whey, a watery, grey fluid that contains lactose, minerals, vitamins, and traces of fat. It is the curds that are used to make cheese, and practically every culture on Earth has developed its own methods, the only major exceptions being China and the ancient Americas. The first cheeses were "fresh," that is, not fermented. They consisted solely of salted white curds drained of whey, similar to today's cottage cheese. The next step was to develop ways of accelerating the natural separation process. This was achieved by adding rennet to the milk. Rennet is an enzyme from the stomachs of young ruminants—a ruminant is an animal that chews its food very thoroughly and possesses a complex digestive system with three or four stomach chambers; in the United States, cows are the best known creatures of this kind. Rennet remains the most popular way of "starting" cheese, though other starting agents such as lactic acid and various plant extracts are also used. By A.D. 100 cheese makers in various countries knew how to press, ripen, and cure fresh cheeses, thereby creating a product that could be stored for long periods. Each country or region developed different types of cheese that reflected local ingredients and conditions. The number of cheeses thus developed is staggering. France, famous for the quality and variety of its cheeses, is home to about 400 commercially available cheeses. The next significant step to affect the manufacture of cheese occurred in the 1860s, when Louis Pasteur introduced the process that bears his name. Pasteurization entails heating milk to partially sterilize it without altering its basic chemical structure. Because the process destroys dangerous micro-organisms, pasteurized milk is considered more healthful, and most cheese is made from pasteurized milk today.

it represents only one-third of the cheese being made today. second-grade cheeses in a palatable form.The first and simplest way of extending the length cheese would keep without spoiling was simply ageing it. and reindeer. In addition to milk and curdling agents. Another advantage of processing cheese was that it permitted the makers to recycle edible. or carrot juice. they developed a method of grinding old cheese. the Swiss became the first to process cheese. fig leaves. long-lasting product. sheep. and heating the mixture to produce a sterile. However. produced in individual households and eaten rarely. Cheeses may also be salted or dyed. in the early 1800s. Cheese makers who wish to avoid rennet may encourage the bacterial growth necessary to . uniform. this percentage had grown to 31 percent. "farmhouse" cheese making has made a comeback in recent years. In fact. Many Americans now own their own small cheese-making businesses. Interestingly. 13 percent of milk was made into cheese. In the 1300s. They may be washed in brine or covered with ashes. water buffalo. and that milk comes from animals as diverse as cows. both the supply of and the demand for cheese have increased. lactic acid. particularly among connoisseurs. usually with annatto. goats. Most cheese makers expedite the curdling process with rennet. with the advent of mass production. such as the vegetable rennet produced from wild artichokes. and their products have become quite popular. Prior to the twentieth century. Frustrated by the speed with which their cheese went bad in the days before refrigeration. or plant extracts. safflower. Raw Materials Cheese is made from milk. though processed cheese is now widely available. the Dutch began to seal cheese intended for export in hard rinds to maintain its freshness. small. camels. The great cheeses of the world may acquire their flavor from the specific bacterial molds with which they have been inoculated. most people considered cheese a specialty food. and. In 1955. cheeses may contain various ingredients added to enhance flavor and color. adding filler ingredients. and it continues to increase. an orange coloring made from the pulp of a tropical tree. By 1984. Aged cheese was popular from the start because it kept well for domestic use. horses. an example being the famous Penicillium roqueforti used to make France's Roquefort and England's Stilton. a majority are still made using natural methods. Despite the fact that most cheeses are produced in large factories. or melon.

onions. sage. The Manufacturing Process Although cheese making is a linear process. whey. and other fillers. this milk contains the bacteria necessary to produce lactic acid. raisins. Cheese making has long been considered a delicate process. milk-fat. Some cheeses possess this bacteria because they are made from unpasteurized milk. gelatin. are reportedly made from milk in which dung or old leather have been dunked. however. Processed cheese will also have preservatives. The unusual texture and flavor of processed cheese are obtained by combining several types of natural cheese and adding salt. Most processed cheese and some natural cheeses are flavored with such ingredients as paprika. gums. The cheese makers let the milk sit until enough lactic acid has formed to begin producing the particular type of cheese they're making. the cheese makers may then heat the ripening milk. still others acquire their bacteria from being buried in mud. which purchase pasteurized milk and must consequently add a culture of bacteria to produce lactic acid. mushrooms. . Other cheeses. Numerous varieties of cheese exist because ending the simple preparation process at different points can produce different cheeses. cumin. and sweeteners as ingredients. one of the agents that triggers curdling. as can varying additives or procedures. Cheese can also be smoked to preserve it and give it a distinctive flavor. This process differs slightly at large cheese factories. Because it is generally purchased from small dairies which don't pasteurize. hazelnuts.curdling by a number of odd methods. jalapeño peppers. cream. evening milk. Attempts to duplicate the success of an old cheese factory have been known to fail because conditions at a new factory do not favor the growth of the proper bacteria. Depending on the type of cheese being produced. chives. vegetable oil. emulsifiers. pepper. thickeners. and bacon. water. it involves many factors. Preparing the milk  1 Small cheese factories accept either morning milk (which is richer). or both. car-away seeds.

the curds must be separated from the whey. larger factories purchase pasteurized milk and must add bacteria culture to produce the lactic acid. the curds are cut both vertically and horizontally with knives. wire knives reminiscent of oven racks. If the cutting is done manually. Animal or vegetable rennet is added. Next. the curds are cut both ways using a large. while hard cheeses are cut into tiny chunks. Once formed. In large factories. huge vats of curdled milk are cut vertically using sharp. furthering its separation into curds and whey. for instance. the first step is preparing the milk. (For cheddar. As the whey . Soft cheeses are cut into big chunks. the space between the knives is about one-twentieth of an inch [half a centimeter]. two-handled knife.) After cutting.Separating the curds from the whey  2 The next step is to add animal or vegetable rennet to the milk. The same machine then agitates the curds and slices them horizontally. the curds may be heated to hasten the separation In a typical cheese-making operation. Although smaller factories purchase unpasteurized milk that already has the bacteria present to produce lactic acid (necessary for curdling). and then the curds are agitated and cut using large knives. multi-bladed.

the curd. although the amount removed depends on the type of cheese. the whey is drained. When separation is complete. heated. To make cheddar cheese. Other rinds may form from the growth of bacteria that has been sprayed on the surface of the cheese. Such cheeses may be heavily salted for export (such as Roquefort) or sealed in impermeable plastic or foil. from the whey. but they are more typically left alone. cheddar aged more than two years is appropriately labeled extra sharp. cheeses can be sealed in cloth or wax. or wrapped in cloth or hay before being deposited in a place of the proper temperature and humidity to age. cheese makers first cheddar and then cook the curd. as their surfaces dry. Regardless. the wheydraining process removes sufficient moisture. Ageing the cheese  4 At this stage the cheese may be inoculated with a flavoring mold. and/or filtered to get rid of excess moisture. Some cheeses are aged for a month. others for several years. Ageing sharpens the flavor of the cheese. Soft cheeses such as cottage cheese are not aged. Other types require the curds to be cut. For some types with high moisture contents. dry cheeses such as parmesan. to facilitate further moisture drainage. To make hard. Here.separates. In place of or in addition to rinds. and this process encourages bacterial growth. Pressing the curds  3 Moisture must then be removed from the curds. The curds are then pressed into molds. for example. it is drained. cheese makers cheddar. this may be all the packaging that is necessary. if necessary. bathed in brine. or finely chop. . some for up to several years. for example. Some cheeses are aged for a month. and aged for the proper amount of time. if the curds are to be aged. Wrapping natural cheese  5 Some cheeses may develop a rind naturally. For local eating. However. large quantities of cheese are packaged for sale in distant countries. they are pressed to give the proper shape and size. they are then put into molds. Still other cheeses are washed.

For example. or cheddar are cut up and very finely ground. cheese connoisseurs insist that pasteurizing destroys the natural bacteria necessary for quality cheese manufacture. Quality Control Cheese making has never been an easily regulated. but cheese making has traditionally been a chancy endeavor. other ingredients such as salt. Cheeses such as Emmental (commonly called Swiss). the result of this controversy has merely been that connoisseurs avoid pasteurized milk cheeses. In fact. Subscribing to analytical tests of cheese characteristics may yield a good cheese. The mixture is then heated under controlled conditions. a pathogen or disease-causing bacteria that occurs in milk products. Despite these regulations. So far.Making and wrapping processed cheese  6 Edible yet inferior cheeses can be saved and made into processed cheese. While still warm and soft. however. Colby. The small sheets of cheese are then put onto a plastic or foil sheet and wrapped by a machine. preservatives. it requires that many cheeses be made from pasteurized milk. and flavorings are added. good soft blue cheese will have high moisture and a high pH. the cheese paste is extruded into long ribbons that are sliced. perhaps even lucky cheese maker insistent upon producing flavorful cheese. After this powder has been mixed with water to form a paste. One controversy in the cheese field centers on whether it is necessary to pasteurize the milk that goes into cheese. They claim that modern cheese factories are so clean and sanitary that pasteurization is unnecessary. cheddar will have neither. emulsifiers. A cheese that strays from this range will be bad-tasting and inferior. Developing a single set of standards for cheese is difficult because each variety of cheese has its own range of characteristics. . Pasteurization was promoted because of the persistence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Gruyere (similar to Swiss). scientific process. Quality cheese has always been the sign of an experienced. it is possible to eat cheeses made from unpasteurized milk to no ill effect. fillers. The United States allows cheeses that will be aged for over sixty days to be made from unpasteurized milk.

the preeminent maker of a variety of natural cheeses. Based on its moisture and fat content. quality processed cheese should resemble cheese and possess some cheesy flavor. Products labeled "cheese spread" must also be 51 percent cheese. hard. For example. The cheese should be smooth and evenly colored. To test a batch of cheese. a hard cheese. France. In general. began granting certain regions monopolies on the manufacture of certain cheeses. catching the center. Because cheese is made for human consumption. can contain no more than 39 percent water and no less than 50 percent fat. great care is taken to insure that the raw materials are of the highest quality. "Cheese product" usually refers to a diet cheese that has more water and less cheese than American cheese. semi-soft. Because they possess such disparate characteristics.Regulations exist so that the consumer can purchase authentic cheeses with ease. preferably with a "bite" such as sharp cheddar cheese has. and in between. cheese must also meet standards for flavor. . or cheese spread. a cheese labeled "Roquefort" is guaranteed to have been ripened in the Combalou caves. appearance. but the specific amount of cheese is not regulated. it should also avoid rubberiness and melt in the mouth. Having been assigned a category. cheese food. the sides. inspectors core a representative wheel vertically in several places. and most are 65 percent. with flavor and texture weighing more than color and appearance. the difference being that such foods have more water and gums to make them spreadable. it must then fall within the range of characteristics considered acceptable for cheeses in that category. and such a guarantee has existed since 1411. and finish. color. "imitation cheese" is not required to contain a minimum amount of cheese. Processed cheese is also subject to legal restrictions and standards. In addition to meeting compositional standards. Cheese is usually assigned points for each of these characteristics. body. For example. different types of cheese are required to meet different compositional standards. and tastes it. Similarly. rubs it to determine body (or consistency). and cheese intended for export must meet particularly stringent quality control standards. texture. Products labeled "cheese food" must be 51 percent cheese. smells it. and cheese is usually not its main ingredient. The inspector then examines the cheese to detect any inconsistencies in texture. Processed American cheese must contain at least 90 percent real cheese. or very hard. aroma. cheddar. a cheese is labeled soft.

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