A cheesemaker is a person who makes cheese from milk. He can feed his young with the milk of cows, goats, sheep, or other animals that produce milk. Because the cheesemaking process is so reliant on specialized techniques and curing methods, his job is often thought to lean more toward artistry, similar to that of a pastry chef. A cheesemaker must also have a highly sensitive palate and the ability to feel the cheese to determine when it has reached the proper consistency for its class.
Soft, semisoft, and hard cheeses are the three main types. Each type is made with a variety of ingredients and a variety of cooking and blending techniques. The majority of cheese is now made machines, though smaller facilities around the world continue to make cheese hand.
If cheese is made in a machine, the process is closely monitored cheesemakers. The cheesemaking process becomes more complicated after the equipment pasteurizes and cooks the milk. To ensure that the cheese turns out with the desired color, flavor, and texture, precise temperatures must be maintained.
If the cheese is to be tinted, special coloring ingredients or dyes will be added the cheesemakers. The mixture is supplemented with key ingredients such as rennet and other coagulation cultures. These ingredients are used cheesemakers to turn liquids into curds and whey. Whey is a watery substance that is frequently discarded. Curds are solid proteins that clump together to form small masses.
The curds are the components of the cheese. A cheesemaker will add different flavoring ingredients depending on the type of cheese being made. He may also use mold to enhance the flavor of some cheese mixtures and aid in their preservation.
The cheesemakers and their assistants check the mixture for color, acidity, mellowness, and firmness as it is being blended. To ensure quality, cheese experts use specialized instruments, as well as their hands and palates. Once the cheese has been blended, it is stored in the warehouse, usually in large rounds or wedges.
In the warehouse, the cheesemaking process continues. Experts inspect each cheese variety on a regular basis to ensure that it has been properly cured and has reached the desired level of ripeness. To speed up the curing process, some cheese varieties are submerged in brine or rolled in salt or culture solutions. The cheesemaker, like winemakers, plugs a wheel of cheese every so often to assess its progress in terms of feel, taste, and smell.
To become a cheesemaker, there are no formal classes or training; most cheesemakers learn everything on the job. Prospective cheesemakers are encouraged to gain experience and certification in operating machinery as the industry becomes more automated. Working in a food processing plant is frequently regarded as a desirable experience.