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 varying 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, you should 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. Try to remember that the yield of the cheese will be less than the initial amount of milk used (approximately 10 pounds of milk can create 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 by separating the solid part and the liquid part of the 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, it is time to cut the curdled milk into the desired size. The 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.