The Cheese Making Process 

 IMG_0969 Bulk Tank:
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.
IMG_0962 Pasteurizing milk:
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.
 IMG_0964 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.
IMG_0967 Sprinkling culture:
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.
 IMG_0971 Adding rennet:
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.
 IMG_0993 Draining whey:
Here we are getting ready to make Monterey Jack cheese and draining the whey.
 IMG_0995 Adding salt:
Cheese needs just the right amount of salt!
 IMG_1007 Boxing cheese:
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.
 IMG_1011 Cheese in cheese press:
Cheese boxes lined up to compress the cheese curds into delicious, 40-pound blocks of Monterey Jack!