How Cheese Is Made

The best cheese comes from the best milk.


 
       

Milk Intake


Quality cheese begins with one key ingredient – quality milk. Before cheesemaking begins, incoming milk is first tested for quality and purity. It takes approximately 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese!

Standardization


Next, cheesemakers weigh, heat treat or pasteurize the milk to ensure product safety and uniformity.

Starter Culture & Coagulant


Starter cultures, or good bacteria, are added to start the cheese making process. They help determine the ultimate flavor and texture of the cheese. Next, a milk-clotting enzyme called rennet is added to coagulate the milk, forming a custard-like mass.

Cutting


It's then cut into small pieces to begin the process of separating the liquid (whey) from the milk solids (curds). Large curds are cooked at lower temperatures, yielding softer Wisconsin cheeses like mascarpone and ricotta. Curds cut smaller are cooked at higher temperatures, yielding harder cheeses like parmesan and romano.

Stirring, Heating & Draining


Cheesemakers cook and stir the curds and whey until the desired temperature and firmness of the curd is achieved. The whey is then drained off, leaving a tightly formed curd.

Curd Transformation


Different handling techniques and salting affect how the curd is transformed into the many cheese varieties made in Wisconsin.

Pressing


Pressing determines the characteristic shape of the cheese and helps complete the curd formation. Pressing is done by mechanical weight or by the weight of the curd itself, such as for Colby and feta. Most cheeses are pressed in three to 12 hours, depending on their size.

Curing


Depending on the variety and style of cheese, the final step in the cheese making process may be curing. Curing is used for aged cheeses and helps fully develop its flavor and texture. The cheese is moved to a room that is carefully controlled for required humidity and temperature and may be aged for 10 years or more.