This post concludes our series on the eight basic steps in cheesemaking as outlined by Dr. Frank Kosikowski and Max McCalman.
The Lady’s nose is buried in Max McCalman’s latest book, Mastering Cheese and just finished the chapter that outlines the eight basic steps of cheesemaking. Max used the work of a Dairy Science Professor. The Lady shared this information with me and I made an executive decision to include this information in our Cheese 101: Learning the Basics to Make You an Expert.
In 1983, Cornell University’s Frank V. Kosikowski announced his intention to create the American Cheese Society. He did, serving as its first president. This event helped launch the renaissance of artisan cheese making in the United States. Sally Jackson was already making cheese in Washington State after obtaining a government grant during the Carter Administration and both Laura Chenel and Mary Keehn were making chevres that would become award winners… the American cheese game was on…
As a dairy science professor, Kosikowski developed the eight basic steps in cheesemaking. As with all artistic endeavors, these steps aren’t etched in stone, unless you are a sculpture…, but it’s a great general outline in what goes into basic cheesemaking.
The Lady and I thank Dr. Kosikowski for his work in making this outline and Max for sharing it in his book. We will share this information in several installments here on the blog.
Steps 4, 5 and 6: Dipping and Draining the Curd; Knitting the Curd; Pressing the Curd
Step 7: Salting the Cheese
The most important ingredient in cheese (after milk, of course) is salt. Salt serves several important and critical purposes in cheesemaking: flavor, moisture reduction and control of bacteria and mold.
There are two ways to salt cheese. The first is dry-salting; sprinkling the salt directly into or onto the cheese curd. The cheesemaker can also sprinkle salt on the surface as the aging process begins.
Wet-salting is the second way to add salt. This manner is also known as brining. Here the cheese is immersed into a brining solution and left there for a few hours or up to several days.
As with every step, salting is an important step as it also helps remove moisture from the cheese (in addition to adding flavor) and just a slight difference in the amount f salt used can significantly affect the final cheese .
Salt also contributes to the formation of the rind.
Step 8: Curing
At this point, the curds are now cheese; but not great cheese. The curing and then aging will now complete the steps and if everything goes right, the cheesemaker will end up with an award-winning cheese. A cheese to make one proud.
Many stages can go into the curing process; many of them are optional and used for specific cheese types.
Many cheeses will be rubbed with herbs and spices; some will be sprinkled with vegetable ash; some may be brushed, sprayed, wrapped in cloth or wrapped in grape leaves. All of these steps are part of curing to make the desired cheese.
Cheeses may be washed to create a more-friendly surface for bacteria that are desired. If washed with wine or beer, yeast will be introduced to the mix and will affect the flavor development of the cheese.
Ripening agents kick in at this point and release enzymes that work their way into the cheese, breaking down the proteins, fats and sugars; setting off aroma and flavor compounds. In brie, the ripening agents help develop the bloomy rind.
Once the curing is done the aging begins and can last anywhere from a few days or in rare cases up to several years for certain cheddars and Dutch Goudas.