How to Make Cheese

How to make cheese

So, you want to know how to make cheese? You're not alone. Anyone who's ever bitten into a block of brick, savored a slice of swiss, or chowed down on a chunk of cheddar has thought to themselves at one time or another: "I wonder if I could make this cheese at home?"

It's easy to make some varieties on your own. You can produce some decent fresh cheeses with recipes for how to make cheese like ricotta, queso blanco, feta, cottage cheese, or mozzarella. However, for blue cheeses or hard cheeses like parmesan and aged cheddar, the process is more complex and the aging process can take weeks, months, or years.

In Wisconsin, pretty much everyone knows how to make cheese – we leave the job to the professionals. We're home to 1,200 licensed cheesemakers, including many master cheesemakers, and we're quite content to leave it to them to produce the 600+ flavors, styles, and varieties of cheese that are made right here in the State of Cheese.

To meet some of our most famous residents – such as a colby, muenster, brick, or asadero cheese – just take a spin through our website. You'll also find recipes for your next Tuesday night mac and cheese, and answers to all your cheese questions like "What is burrata cheese?" and "Where has this Dunbarton Blue been all my life?" Or if you're interested in how to make cheese that wins world championships, just scroll down.

How cheese is made

Whether it's a mild cheddar, a blue cave cheese, or the best gruyère cheese this side of Switzerland, most cheeses are made pretty much the same way.

Cheese starts out as milk from cows, sheep, goats, and even buffalo. A starter culture of bacteria is added to the milk to change the lactose in the milk into lactic acid and to give the cheese its flavor. And an enzyme called rennet is added to coagulate the milk, forming solid curds and liquid whey., After the whey is drained off, the curds may be cut or milled to a finer texture – typically, smaller curds release more moisture and produce a harder cheese. Some cheeses like cheddar are manipulated or cooked to release more whey and change the texture of the curd. Next, the cheese is salted or submersed in brine for a period of time, then pressed into a mold and left to age for a few days, weeks, months or years.

Variations in this basic process are what cause a vat of milk to wind up as a gouda, gorgonzola, parmesan, or ricotta.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs on how to make cheese

Is it hard to make cheese?

Making cheese isn't particularly hard, but making high-quality cheese is incredibly difficult. That's why master cheesemakers go through a rigorous training program. To graduate from Wisconsin's Master Cheesemaker program, for example, you must have 10+ years' experience as a licensed cheesemaker in Wisconsin, complete a series of challenging courses and pass a final written exam that can take up to 40 hours to complete.

What is rennet?

Rennet is a set of enzymes that is traditionally harvested from the lining of the stomachs of young ruminant animals like calves, lambs, or kids (young goats). These enzymes coagulate milk by causing the casein proteins in it to cling together and to separate the milk curd from the liquid whey.

Why is some cheese aged?

The longer cheese ages, the more the lactose in the cheese is converted to lactic acid and the stronger the taste of the cheese becomes.

Wisconsin: where we really know how to make cheese

If there's one thing we know in Wisconsin, it's how to make cheese. Our cheesemakers have been hard at it for 180 years, and they've gotten pretty darn good at it by now. It's why they win more champion cheesemaking awards than any other state or country. It's why Wisconsin makes one-quarter of all the cheese sold in America and nearly half of all the artisan cheese. And it's why, if you asked the average Wisconsinite "What's on your mind?", the answer is likely to be some form of cheese product.

So, next time you want to know how to make cheese, just ask any Wisconsin cheesemaker. They'll happily spend hours telling you how they produce their award-winning products. And a double bonus for you, they'll likely let you sample their wares the entire time.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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