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Dairy Foods: Cheese  “Starter Cultures”

Dairy Foods: Cheese  Manufacturing

Cheese Starter Cultures for Dairy Foods:


Cheese Starter Cultures are beneficial microflora (microscopic plant bacteria) used to produce cheeses, yogurts and other dairy products. Starter cultures began historically when cheesemakers left a little residual culture in each vat to begin the fermentation process in the following batch.

There are three types of Cheese Starter Cultures:


  1. “Primary Starter Cultures”:

    Primary Starter Cultures are beneficial microfloras (microscopic plant bacteria) used in the curd formation and consolidation phases in the beginning production of natural cheeses, yogurts and other dairy products. These beneficial plant bacteria contribute overall flavor, pleasant acid taste and sharpness to cheese taste. Most cheeses are made with starter bacteria from the Lactococci, Lactobacilli, or Streptococci families. Swiss starter cultures also include Propionibacter shermani, which produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles during aging, giving Swiss cheese or Emmental its holes (commonly called “eyes”).


  2. “Secondary Starter Cultures”:

    Secondary Starter Cultures are beneficial microflora not involved in curd formation and consolidation. They are used to: lengthen the shelf-life, decrease cure time, enhance flavor development, reduce residual sugars (glucose, galactose, lactose) or improve the specific or overall functional aspect of the cheese. (i.e. Streptococcus thermophilus, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. Cremoris and Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. Lecon).


  3. “Tertiary or Adventatious Starter Cultures”:

    Adventatious Starter Cultures are microorganisms (enterococci, lactobacilli, S. diacetylactis, L. citrovorum) that gain access to the cheese vat by accident. This could be from the raw milk, milk contact surfaces, curd handling equipment, worker hands & clothing or from the production facility. These cultures provide faster flavor development, more intense flavor development or improved textural qualities but make consistency more difficult because their introduction is not a controlled procedure.