ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How is cheese made?

Updated on May 20, 2010

Cheese is a nutritious milk product that is usually made from curds that have been concentrated and ripened. It is high in protein and is also an important source of calcium and vitamin A. Cheese is generally richer than milk in butter-fat, except for those cheeses made from skim milk or whey. Its high protein content makes it an excellent low-cost substitute for meat.

There are hundreds of different varieties of cheese, from very soft and perishable types to aged cheeses so hard they can be used only for grating. Most cheeses are made from cow's milk, although milk from sheep and goats is widely used in Europe and a few cheeses are made from the milk of water buffalo and reindeer.

The United States is the world's largest producer of cheese. Most of the cheese produced there is made in Wisconsin. Other leading cheese-producing states are Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and New York. U. S. consumption averages about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) per person yearly.

Other major cheese-producing countries are Switzerland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, and Ireland. France produces more different types of cheeses than any other country, especially soft and semisoft varieties.

Making Cheese

All cheese starts as milk, but the milk may be sweet whole milk, a combination of sweet and sour milk, or a mixture of whole and skim milk. The first step in making cheese is to separate the whey (the liquid portion of the milk) from the curd (the solid particles). When milk is slightly sour, this may be done by placing the milk over very low heat for several hours. In modern manufacture, a culture of lactic acid-producing bacteria is added to sweet milk to cause the separation, and sometimes a combination of heat plus the culture and an extract of rennet may be used.

The next step in cheese making is pressing the curds to concentrate them and remove moisture. The amount of moisture extracted determines the texture of the cheese. The softer the cheese desired, the less moisture is extracted.

In making fresh, unripened cheese, such as cottage cheese, the curd need only be well drained, pressed or molded into shape, and then seasoned. Most cheese, however, is ripened, or cured. This means that the cheese undergoes a process of fermentation, after which it is stored in cellars, caves, or special rooms where the temperature and humidity can be controlled. The temperature at which the cheese is ripened and the length of time it is kept at that temperature are two of the many factors that determine the characteristics of the cheese. Other factors include the kind of milk used and the manner in which the curd is pressed. Many cheeses owe their distinctive character to various kinds of molds or other microorganisms that are either injected into the cheese or absorbed from the floor and walls of the caves. The blue-green veining of Roquefort, for example, is due to the mold Penicillium roqueforti, which is found in the humid mountain caves of southern France.

Cheese may remain in a ripening cellar for two weeks, two months, or nearly a year, depending on the variety. During this ripening period, the cheese is salted and turned frequently, and the exterior may be rubbed with oil or some other protective coating. Some cheeses are dry-salted, but others are immersed in brine. During the ripening period, various flavorings, such as caraway seeds, may also be added.

After ripening, some cheeses are further aged in special cellars for periods of six months to four years. With age, a cheese becomes sharper in flavor and firmer in texture and may also become darker in color.

Any ripened cheese, whether it is aged or not, is called a natural cheese. A process, or pasteurized process, cheese is a mixture of fresh and ripened cheese that has been shredded, mixed, heated to a liquid state, and then poured into sterile molds and sealed. Pasteurized process cheese food is a mixture of fresh and natural cheese to which nonfat dry milk, whey solids, and water have been added. It is softer than process cheese and spreads and melts more easily, but contains more moisture and less actual cheese. Pasteurized process cheese spreads are still higher in moisture content, sometimes containing only about 28% cheese, with vegetable gum added to give them a soft, chewy consistency.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)