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  • This interactive explains the first steps in the process of making traditional Gouda cheese. Find out more about the final steps in the cheese making process in this related interactive.

    Making cheese - first steps interactiveMilk sourceCoagulating the milkReleasing the wheyPasteurisationCutting the curdsMaking cheese - the final steps interactive


    1. Milk source

    Miel Meyer – Meyer Gouda Cheese

    I think the quality of milk is crucial to cheese. As you know, cheese is made 100% out of milk so the quality of the raw product directly correlates to the end product. For our cheese in particular, it’s from the farm that we’re located on.

    In fact, we’ve actually got an overhead line which connects us directly to the milk vat where the cows are, so in the morning, within 3 minutes or 5 minutes after they’ve finished milking the cows, we’re starting to produce that milk into cheese, so you can’t get much fresher than that.

    2. Pasteurisation

    Miel Meyer – Meyer Gouda Cheese

    Pasteurisation is the process of heating up milk and cooling it back down in an effort to minimise the bacterial risk of that product.

    The key to pasteurisation is to heat the milk to 72 degrees for no less than 15 seconds. Once you’ve done that, then your legal framework’s done and you can carry on making cheese.

    Harvesting milk from cows can be quite a dirty process. Cows in the yard are pooing and weeing all over the place. All over their environment are nasty bacteria – E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria. The pasteurisation process gets rid of and minimises the risk.

    3. Coagulating the milk

    Miel Meyer – Meyer Gouda Cheese

    The beauty of cheese is that it takes a long time to go off, and part of that reason is in the acidity and then adding of the rennet, which reduces the moisture from the cheese. Rennet is an extract from a calf’s stomach. It nowadays can be synthetically made. We choose to still use a natural calf rennet to keep in line with our traditional product. So once we’ve pasteurised the milk, we add a starter culture, so this is a mesophilic anaerobic culture. Once it grows in the milk, it slightly acidifies the milk.

    We add the rennet slightly after the starter and then we give it quite a lot of time to rest and then to coagulate, and that’s the solidifying of the milk.

    I think that’s the magic of cheese is, once you add the rennet, it forces the milk solids to come together and the milk liquid, which essentially is water, to leave that solid behind.

    4. Cutting the curds

    Miel Meyer – Meyer Gouda Cheese

    Cutting of the curds is important to be able to release the moisture from the milk. So once you’ve added the rennet, you end up with quite a jelly-like structure – coagulated milk.

    The important part of this is to make sure you have a small enough curd that the moisture can actually be released from the curd. So the cutting of the curds is really important – important that you keep them at a similar shape – that means they all mature at the same time in the cheese vats. So if you’ve got a bigger curd and a smaller curd, the smaller curd’s going to release whey much more quickly than the bigger curd, so when it comes to putting them in the moulds, the larger curds aren’t going to be ready and then you end up with a soft spot in the cheese.

    5. Releasing the whey

    Miel Meyer – Meyer Gouda Cheese

    We want to keep removing the moisture from the curd, so the best way to do that is to release the whey that you’ve already removed from the curds, add more water, preferably hot water – that way the reaction occurs faster, more moisture leaves the curds quicker.

    It will always happen, but if you remove the whey and dilute the whey that’s already in there, then the reaction occurs faster.

    That’s usually twice but it’s all dependent on the time of year, how we feel about the milk. It’s what the cheesemaker has to be aware of, so if he thinks the milk is quite fatty and the whey is too rich and you see a lot of fat on the top of the milk, then you‘ll be looking at doing it three times. Very occasionally, we’ll release the whey four times.

    Rights: University of Waikato Published 8 May 2012, Updated 10 May 2017 Size: 310 KB Referencing Hub media
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