The wonderful path from milk to cheese.
To produce one kilogram of cheese, it takes between 4 and 13 liters of raw milk or pasteurized milk. However, it also takes some time, tradition and technology – and some love.
It has been known since time immemorial that milk has to be acidic, so to speak, in order for it to become cheese. By becoming acidic, a natural principle, solid components such as milk sugar and protein separate from the liquid whey.
First the milk is strained and pasteurized, unless it is raw milk cheese. Depending on the desired fat content of the cheese, the milk can be skimmed and refined with cream. Followed by curdling, also known as fermentation, i.e. the pre-ripening with the help of lactic acid bacteria and the coagulation of the milk with rennet, which can last from 30 minutes to several hours, the jelly is allowed to rest for a while.
Rennet is an enzyme that breaks down the structure of milk protein. A basic distinction is made between rennet and sour milk cheese types: cream cheese, quark, Harzer and cooked cheese are created when the milk is acidified with the help of lactic acid bacteria and the whey is thus separated from the milk protein. These types of cheese therefore belong to the category of sour milk cheeses. The production of fresh or cottage cheese is different, in which a little of the enzyme rennet is added to the natural lactic acid bacteria. These types of cheese then fall into the category of rennet milk cheese.
Depending on the desired firmness, the jelly can be broken up with a cheese harp. This process is also called cutting. We are now in the cheese curds. The finer this cheese curd is chopped, the more whey can separate and the harder the cheese will be when finished. This means that a hard cheese is chopped much more finely during the curd than, for example, a soft cheese.
What sounds relatively simple in this step requires a lot of experience, knowledge and the right instinct in the next step. Now you have to estimate when the cheese curd has the right consistency so that it can be poured into the mold and pressed. The remaining whey is separated from the cheese curd by draining, pressing and turning. Now all the cheeses can take a quiet bath in a brine in their appropriate form, only the cream cheese remains dry. The brine bath primarily promotes the formation of the bark.
The most beautiful and exciting part of cheese production is probably the refinement process using harmless noble molds, wine pulp, spices and herbs or even ash. There are no limits to the imagination of the cheese masters and they create a variety of different gustatory experiences. These finishing processes take place when the cheese rests in a ripening cellar during the ripening process and is properly cared for by the affineur: the cheese wheels are brushed, washed and treated with fine mold as necessary.
When we talk about the universally feared analogue cheese, all these processes of classic milk production, which were already practiced in ancient Rome, are different, as this “false” cheese is not made from milk, but from vegetable fat and starch. This cheese substitute is cheaper because not only is the vegetable fat cheaper than milk fat, but the ripening process is also eliminated and the production of analogue cheese is quicker.
Maybe the love that plays a big role in traditional cheese production, for the product, the tradition and the craftsmanship, can also be tasted a little bit - but you will definitely taste it!