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From milk to cheese

All cheeses start from animal milk, including cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, and even camel.

  • The milk is first warmed to a temperature ideal for microbes to flourish.
  • Next, acid or rennet is added, alongside some 'starter' bacteria that causes the milk proteins and fats to coagulate, curdling the milk.
  • The curds can be drained and chopped into chunks and scooped into moulds.
  • The initial 'starter' bacteria die off over several weeks and other microbes take over to enhance the flavour that creates the potent flavours and aromas.
  • Salt is added to stop microbes responsible for spoiling the process.
  • The 'ripening' microbes break the proteins in the cheese into amino acids, many of which have their own flavour.
  • Particularly voracious bacteria and fungi will break down amino acids even further to produce the truly smelly by-products.

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Over the months of ripening, smelly parts can interact in new ways to produce more flavour-carrying molecules, such as a hint of nutty, spicy, woody, grassy, or burnt oats. More fat in the cheese generally makes it tastier.

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Animal milk is used to create over 1,700 distinct varieties of cheese; creamy Brie, buttery Gouda, crumbly Parmesan, stringy mozzarella, sharp Cheddar, to name a few.

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