The Cheese Making Process
We begin making cheese by pumping milk from our bulk tank. It can hold up to 9000 pounds of milk! Milk is kept a chilly thirty-eight degrees.
Cheese starts with pasteurized milk. Our milk goes directly into the High Temperature Short Time pasteurizer.
There the milk is heated to 167 degrees for 15 seconds.
Cold milk coming into the pasteurizer then cools the heated milk via a heat exchange unit. Cooling the milk down to 90 degrees is the perfect temperature to prepare it for the cheese-making vat and adding our cheese culture.
When making Neighborly Farms Raw Milk Cheddar cheese, our milk goes directly into the cheese vat at 38 degrees. The process of heating the milk to pasteurize is bypassed and replaced by aging for 60 days, which naturally pasteurizes the cheese.
|Milk Flows into Vat:
Our milk flows into the cheese vat. The pasteurized milk in this vat has been cooled to 90 degrees from the incoming colder milk.
With the milk in the vat we add our freeze-dried culture. We then mix well and wait for 90 minutes. If it’s working it will change the pH level of the milk reading it for the next step.
The cheese culture changes the milks pH level, readying it for the liquid vegetable rennet. This makes the cheese a jelly-like consistency.
|Cutting the cheese:
Our curd knife has stainless steel wires spaced ½ inch apart. We cut the curd horizontally and vertically until we have cubes of curd floating in the whey. The curd is then slowly heated to 102 degrees within 30 minutes.
Here we are getting ready to make Monterey Jack cheese and draining the whey.
Cheese needs just the right amount of salt!
After draining whey and salting the cheese curds go into boxes. The boxes are lined with cheesecloth and kept overnight at a pressure of 40 pounds per square inch.
|Cheese in cheese press:
Cheese boxes lined up to compress the cheese curds into delicious, 40-pound blocks of Monterey Jack!