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ON THE BEST METHODS OF MANUFACTURING CHEDDAR CHEESE
THE making of a good Cheddar cheese depends largely on conditions which are conveniently summarized by the word "medium." A first-rate quality of Cheddar can be made in any district, provided that you have soil of medium quality, which will grow a short, sweet herbage. Soils resting on and derived from limestone rocks are ideal; yet any soil of fair body, growing herbage free from all coarse grasses, &c., and containing a small percentage of leguminous plants, is equally appropriate. The breed of cattle is of considerable importance, owing to the great variation in the nature and quality of the milk which they yield. Those yielding milks rich in fat, and with a great difference between the size of the largest and smallest fat globules, are not so suitable as those yielding a milk containing an average percentage of fat, with only a slight difference between the size of the fat globules. When a milk is rich in fat there is danger of loss during the making of the cheese. When the fat globules are nearly uniform in size, you are able to get a more perfect distribution of them throughout the cheese. The milk of different breeds varies in colour, some yielding a milk almost white, others one decidedly yellow. The nearer white the milk the better, if artificial colouring of the cheese is not going to be practised. A typical cheese-making milk is that of the Ayrshire breed.
The food which the cow receives influences the milk. The ideal food for producing a cheese-making milk is grass; and the addition of cake to the diet of a cow renders the milk more suitable for butter than for cheese-making. This is because prime Cheddars are made from a medium quality of milk rather than from an excessively rich one. Besides, the increase in the richness of milk from such feeding is largely that of the fat of the milk, and consequently no appreciable increase in the quantity of cheese is obtained; whereas if butter was made a corresponding increase in the butter yield would be got. Again, cheese made from the milk of cake-fed cows is liable to deleterious changes during manufacture. The drinking water of the cows should be free from all suspicion of contamination. Water from stagnant ponds, or the effluent water from sewage farms, renders cheese liable to become spongy. The surroundings of the cow must be clean. The chief cause of complaint against milk is probably due to contamination after it is drawn from the cow. Given a suitable district, breed of cow, food, water supply, and surroundings, the cheese-maker can depend on commencing with a first-class raw article, i. e. a milk of average quality, suitable colour, with uniformly sized fat globules, and free from contamination either in the form of injurious bacteria or acquired taints.
A Cheddar is a whole milk cheese, and consequently no fat is extracted from the milk which is intended for its making. The evening's milk is strained into the cheese-vat, and kept at 64° to 68° F. The temperature is varied according to the conditions of the weather and the keeping qualities of the milk. In the morning the cream is skimmed off, heated to 90° F., and returned to the vat through the strainer along with the morning's milk. By this plan we get thorough mixing of the cream off the evening's milk, with the mixed evening's and morning's milk. The milk is now allowed to ripen, if it is not already ripe enough.
RIPENING is essentially acidity development. There are two methods of attaining the desired result. (a) The old Cheddar method in which a certain amount of sour whey is added to the milk in the vat. This is an empirical plan which does not take into account the amount of acid already present in the milk, and also risks one day's contaminated whey tainting the rest of the season's make of cheese. (b) The more modern method, and that adopted by the Canadian makers, is to keep the milk at a certain temperature (90° to 95°) until the required acidity develops. This temperature is the one that is most favourable to the growth of the bacteria which produce the acid we desire to obtain.
TESTING FOR ACIDITY. — There are two methods by which to determine the ripeness or amount of acidity developed — (a) By means of rennet. Take 4 oz. of milk at the temperature at which it is intended to rennet the milk, and add i drachm of rennet; if the milk coagulates in 20 to 22 seconds it is ready for renneting. (b) By means of chemical re-agents. Take out 10 c.cs. of milk with a pipette, run into a white porcelain dish, and add three drops of phenolphthalein solution (addition of an alkali to a solution of phenol-phthalein produces a pink coloration). From a burette allow to drop soda solution of such strength that 1 c.c. of it will neutralize 0.01 gramme of lactic acid. Whilst adding the soda solution, keep constantly stirring the milk in the dish, and on the appearance of the faintest tinge of pink which remains permanent, you know that the whole of the lactic acid in the milk is neutralized. If it requires 2 c.cs. of the soda solution for this purpose, we know that we have 0.2 per cent. of acid in the milk, which is about the correct amount for making Cheddar. The former of these methods is probably to be preferred, owing to its requiring materials which are always at hand, and similar materials to those you are going to use in the actual cheese-making. The ripening or development of acidity is done with the object of aiding the coagulating action of the rennet, to assist in expelling moisture from the curd, and to shorten the whole process of manufacture.
RENNETING. — Assuming that the correct amount of acidity is developed, and that the temperature of the milk is 82° to 85°, depending on the season of the year, the atmospheric conditions of the day, &c., we add a sufficient quantity of rennet to ensure coagulation in 45 to 60 minutes. Usually 4 to 4 1/2 oz. of Hansen's rennet extract to each 100 gallons of milk is sufficient. After thoroughly stirring the milk and rennet, cover the vat with a cloth, and leave the curd until firm enough for cutting. When the curd makes a clean break over a finger inserted under and along its surface, it is ready for cutting. If cut before it is firm enough, you get a white whey owing to loss of fat, and this will happen however carefully the cutting is performed. If, on the other hand, the curd is too firm, you require to use such force in cutting that you also get a white whey, owing to the injury done to the curd.
CUTTING. — In the old Cheddar system a large single-bladed knife was used. In the Canadian system American cutters are used. With the latter the curd is first cut with a vertical knife lengthwise and crosswise, then with a horizontal knife in the same manner. Clean the sides and bottom of the vat with the hands; cut again with two knives both ways, and allow to settle ten to fifteen minutes, the shorter period if the curd is hard, the longer if it is soft. The object of cutting is to facilitate the escape of the whey, and cutting into uniform-sized cubes aids in the securing of a good curd.
BREAKING. — After settling, stir the curd carefully with the shovel breaker or rake for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the curd is the size of peas, and thoroughly intermingled with the whey. Then commence the application of heat or scalding, which usually takes place some forty minutes from the time cutting commences.
SCALDING. — This is done to render the curd firm, and to develop acidity. There are two methods of scalding (a) The old method in which the operation is performed in three stages. The process consists in drawing off a proportion of the whey, and after heating it to a certain temperature adding it slowly to the contents of the vat. This is repeated three times. The first time the whey is heated to 110°, the second to 120°, and the third to 130°. The temperature of the contents of the vat is raised the first time to 90°, the second to 95°, and the third to 100°. To ascertain the number of gallons of whey to draw off, multiply the number of gallons of milk at the commencement by the number of degrees it is intended to raise the contents of the vat at the first scald. This product, divided by the number of degrees of heat it is intended to raise the whey, gives the number of gallons of whey required; e.g.
Contents of vat, 100 gallons.
Temperature to which it is intended to raise the contents of the vat, 90°.
Temperature of whey before commencing heating, 85°.
Temperature to which it is intended to raise the whey, 110°.
Thus we have —
90° — 85° = 5° x 100 gals. = 500
110° — 85° = 25°
500/25 = 20 gals., amount of whey required.
The contents of the vat are stirred fifteen minutes after each scalding, but after the last scalding stir until the curd is sufficiently cooked.
(b) The more modern method (which requires a jacketed vat and steam) is to raise the temperature continuously at the rate of 1° in three minutes, until 100° is reached, and then keep it at 100° until the curd is sufficiently cooked. Scalding ought to be done more slowly if little acid is present in the curd, and more rapidly if the acid is well developed.
The curd is known to be scalded sufficiently when it is shotty, hard, sinks quickly, has an acid smell, and answers to the hot iron test. This last test is simple and gives constant results. It is performed by taking a small quantity of curd, compressing it tightly in the hand, drying it on a cloth, and then applying it firmly to a bar of iron heated to black heat, and gently drawing it away. If acid enough, the curd attenuates to fine threads of 1/4-inch length. If not acid enough, it will not so attenuate; if too acid it attenuates to a greater length. The sufficiently scalded curd is allowed to pitch for a quarter of an hour, and then a rack is put on and weighted with a 56-lb. weight. Thus the curd remains until it is consolidated or begins to mat. It is then cut up the centre with a long knife, rolled to the upper end of the vat, and the racks and weights placed on as before. Draw off the whey, remove the weights from the curd, cut it up and spread it on the bottom of the vat.
PACKING AND "CHEDDARING." — Replace the curd in a square block in the bottom of the vat, sweep up all the crumbs, re-weight and allow to remain ten minutes. Cut into bricks and remove to the curd-sink; cover with dry cloths and put on the weights. Open and turn every twenty minutes, turning the outside of the curd within. When the curd is firm and tough, cut it into two-inch cubes, tie up in a cloth, cover with dry cloths and a tin pan and apply the weights. Open out and separate every half-hour, using dry cloths each time until it is ready to grind. The above method of manufacture results in a more open and meaty cheese than that obtained by adopting the modern or Canadian plan.
CANADIAN METHOD. — In this method the whey is drawn off before any matting or consolidating takes place, and the loose curd is removed from the vat to a curd-cooler, where it is stirred until it is dry enough to mat, which, however, is a point rather difficult for inexperienced persons to decide. Matting goes on until the curd is ready to grind. A curd is ready to grind when it is distinctly acid to the taste and smell, dry and solid in cutting, tears stringy, and attenuates from 1 in. to 1 1/4 in. on the hot iron.
GRINDING is done to reduce the curd to such a condition that salt can be thoroughly distributed; it also allows of the cooling of the curd. When ground the curd is ready for weighing, and, if cool enough, for salting.
SALTING. — About two per cent. of salt is the amount usually added, and the temperature of the curd should not be above 80°. The salt hardens the curd, helps to dry it, has a slight antiseptic action and therefore arrests decay to some extent, and also has a tendency to check further development of acidity in the curd. After adding the salt stir the mixture well for fifteen minutes, which will ensure thorough incorporation of the salt and the curd. When the temperature of the curd is 70° to 75° it is ready for putting into hoops which are lined with a cloth. In filling the hoops press carefully with the closed hand. After the hoop is full place it in the press.
PRESSING. — The pressure must be gradually applied, and should reach 10 cwt. in two hours' time, at which pressure it is allowed to remain over night. If pressing is excessive during the first few hours, fat is expelled with the whey, and the quality of the cheese is lowered. Besides this, a hard firm coat round the external portion of the cheese is got, which checks the drainage of the whey. The object of pressing is to bind and consolidate the curd, and to expel whey. A suitable temperature in the press-room (60°) aids the objects of pressing. The morning next after the day of making, the cheese is taken out of the press, the cloth is removed, and the cheese bathed for one minute in water heated to 120°. This improves the condition of the coat, rendering it tougher and less liable to crack. After bathing put on clean cloths, and return to the press. Apply 10 cwt. pressure during the first two hours, and then 15 cwt. until next morning. On the morning of the third day turn the cheese, grease it, cap one end, and return to press with a smooth cloth; then apply 1 to 1 1/2 tons of pressure. The grease is applied to fill up cracks, to render the outside of the cheese smooth, and to enable the bandages to stick. On the fourth day turn the cheese, put a cap on the bare end, place in a clean cloth, and then apply pressure until the afternoon. In the afternoon bandage with a laced or winding bandage, weigh, and take up to the curing-room.
CURING OR RIPENING. — The temperature of the curing-room should be 65° to 70°. New or young cheeses require the higher, — old cheeses the lower temperature. The ripening-room requires to be kept at an even and correct temperature, for although the making of a Cheddar depends so largely on success in the first stages of the operation, there is yet a possibility of spoiling the best of curds if due attention is not given to the temperature of the ripening-room. When the temperature is too low the result is a soapy cheese lacking body and flavour; when too high, sweating occurs, loss of fat, and dryness in the cheese. The cheese must be turned daily for six weeks. Neglect to turn results in redness on the ends of the cheese, and moisture descends to the end which is resting on the racks. A certain amount of ventilation is necessary, but there must be no draughts. Usually the room is kept dark, which, however, is of little if any advantage, except that cheese-flies are not then quite so numerous.