What is cheese?
This is the most basic question we need to answer.
Merriam-Webster defines cheese as a food consisting of the coagulated, compressed, and usually ripened curd of milk separated from the whey.
The first known use of the word “cheese” was before the 12th century.
Milk is one of the most versatile raw ingredients we can get from various animal sources like cows and goats. Over the years, people have innovated food products made from milk and one of them is cheese.
Cheese is a by-product of milk made by adding acids, letting the milk solidify into curds and then left to ripen. Depending on the process used, cheese can have vary in flavor, texture, color, and aroma. It all depends on the desired results to determine what methods should be taken. A lot of recipes use cheese for its flavor-enhancing qualities and scrumptious texture especially when melted.
In making cheese, like kesong puti, always start off with good quality milk to get favorable results. However, the processing will drastically change the flavor of the milk so any farm-fresh milk is acceptable to use. Remember that the yield of the cheese will be less than the initial amount of milk used. For every 10 pounds of milk, you can create approximately 1 pound of cheese.
People back then used sheep stomach as a pouch to carry food for traveling. The cheese was accidentally invented by a merchant long ago. The merchant carried milk in the sheep stomach and then traveled in the scorching heat. He found the milk turned into curds and changed flavor that night.
The first process of turning milk into cheese is separating the solid and liquid parts of milk. This is called coagulation or curdling. The reason why the milk curdled in the sheep stomach is that it is lined with the curdling enzyme rennet which is abundant in ruminant mammals like sheep, goats, and cows. The rennet or lactic bacteria used for coagulation can dictate the flavor of the resulting cheese.
Once the milk has curdled up, you can cut the curdled milk into your desired size. The solid part (called curd) will start to separate from the liquid part (called whey) as it keeps getting cut. Application of heat and stirring is also done to keep the curd firm before draining the whey.
After collecting the drained curd, several processes are done depending on what type of cheese is being made. Some add salt to enhance flavors while others might knead the curd to create mozzarella. Once satisfied, the curds are ready to be made into cheese by pressing and molding.
The final step is curing the cheese. Depending on the variety of cheese, the curing would be different and may be skipped and packaged directly. Some cheeses are left to age to develop its flavor thoroughly.
The holes in Swiss cheese come from the bacteria during curing. Take note that controlled temperature and humidity is needed when curing the cheese.