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DAIRY FOODS: NATURAL & PROCESSED CHEESE 

NATURAL & PROCESSED CHEESE: MANUFACTURING STEPS

 

NATURAL CHEESE MANUFACTURING:

  • SETTING the MILK = heating whole milk to 31 *C, adding Streptococcus lactis starter culture, mild acidic system after 30 minutes.  

  • CUTTING the CURD = vertical & horizontal wires in a frame are drawn thru length of stainless steel vat creating cubes. 

  • COOKING the CURD = heating to 38*C over 30 min and holding at that temp for additional 45 minutes.  This expels the whey liquid and toughens the curd cubes. 

  • DRAINING WHEY / MATTING CURD = whey is drained and curds stick together; approx. 15 minutes. Cheddaring is the cutting of these cheese blocks and stacking every 15 minutes; this allows acid formation to expel liquid whey from cheese blocks as the fermentation process advances with time. 

  • MILLING & SALTING = large blocks are cut into small pieces, spread onto bottom of stainless steel vat and salted at 2.5% / wt., then stirred.  

  • PRESSING the BATCH= milled and salted pieces are put into hoops fitted with cheesecloth and hydraulically pressed to squeeze out moisture.  

  • CHEESE CURING = cooling at 16*C at 60% RH (Relative Humidity) for 3-4 days. Flex film/cheese wax added to protect the block or wheel from surface mold.  

  • CHEESE RIPENING = ripening at 2*C at 85% RH (Relative Humidity) for an additional 2 to 12 months. 

PROCESS CHEESE MANUFACTURING:

Process cheese production usually involve adding the sodium phosphates (emulsifying agents) in either:

  1. The blending stage: where the natural cheese is ground up, or

  2. The cooking stage: where the ground natural cheese composition is heated by steam in an auger and forced through the system to produce a homogeneous liquid blend.

 

Process cheese production can be a batch or continuous system, and sodium phosphates are known emulsifying agents used to maintain a uniform (homogenous) and stable blend of ingredients. 

Dairy products use emulsifying agents to:

—   sequester calcium in the protein system of the dairy product.

—   peptize, solubilize and disperse protein.

—   hydrate and swell proteins;

—   emulsify fat and stabilize the emulsions;

—   control and stabilize the pH (final product pH targets fall between 5.6 and 6.1)

—   form a desired dairy product structure after cooling.

 

If an excessive amount of sodium phosphate (emulsifying agent) is added to the process cheese it will not melt during processing and will form a hard cheese brick. If an inadequate amount of emulsifying agent is added, the cheese will oil off and will not homogenize. In addition, no more than 3% by weight of the final dairy product can contain phosphates stated in the U.S. Government regulations.

 

To prevent these production problems, some manufacturers use a proprietary liquid phosphate composition to deliver and dispense the sodium phosphate emulsification agents. Phosphates are added to a liquid sodium phosphate (source of alkalinity) intermediate (vehicle) yielding a liquid phosphate composition with a targeted ratio of monosodium phosphate, disodium phosphate, and trisodium phosphate. This predetermined blend (of MSP, DSP and TSP) ratio in the final cheese product is determined by a variety of processing factors including pH, desired organoleptic (taste & mouthfeel) properties, type of cheese, and buffering capacity to name a few.

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