What the fuck is cheese

Uiaad

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Reynardine

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I love cheese!
Hmm, poor are the people who never tasted raw milk cheese in their lives.

There's little more delicious than real Camembert or Brie, or Gruyère or Comté, to name some of my favourites.
France and Switzerland make the best cheese in the world. (If you ask me)
(Oh, and Italian Parmigiano Reggiano for your pasta needs, of course)

Tasting cheese is a moment of joy and happiness! ^_^

This here is not cheese, by the way:
scheiblettenkaese.jpg

Gross...
 
Last edited by Reynardine,

FAST6191

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I realise I neglected to both science and doing cooking...

Cheese is a product of milk, most likely in the world you will meet cheese made from cow milk but goat and sheep milk based cheeses are fairly readily available. Other more exotic milks can also work. Some people also make cheeses from high fat milks or creams.

Depending upon the milk source you might also need some bacteria to help ferment the milk a bit (most milks products are pasteurised so you will need to add some bacteria back in*). There are a few approaches available here, though mostly they just change what heats you use to activate them and not kill them.

*personally I find the culture (pun intended) around raw milk to be unpleasant and any adverse effects created by pasteurisation for cheese or cooking purposes to be easily worked around in a manner that would work in any double blind test you like. Also comes with the bonus you know what you are starting with and can control things better.

Some cheese types will further add mould cultures to them to create certain effects.

The coagulant is next. Traditionally something (an enzyme if you want to go science boy) called rennet is used. It is created/extracted from the stomach of a calf (or respective other animal for those other milks -- remember humans are one of the few animals where at least certain members of the species are able to digest milk in adulthood). This means that technically many cheeses are not vegetarian which confuses some people. There are also more specialist rennet types made from different age animals that have different effects. You might also find some rennet in your bacteria cultures.
That said going back to antiquity (we have some idea that figs were used in ancient Greece) there have been other coagulants.
Certain bacteria and other microbes can also be used. Modern genetic engineering also allows bacteria and other microbial life to produce various coagulants much like they produce insulin for people and thus be vegetarian if you desire that.
For certain soft cheeses you can instead use an acid. Citric, vinegar or lactic (which you can make from soured milk) being the big three, never heard of malic (sour from apples, also a lot of American sour sweets in my experience) being used but I shall have to investigate (normally malic is pale second to citric for my purposes but that does not matter here). Soft cheese is for the most part soft cheese but of interest here might been paneer which is popular in all manner of dishes from the Indian subcontinent. Edit. Seems there was some research done on the various common cooking acids with regards to making paneer -- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3931878/
and another for mozzarella in 1974 no less ( Mineral Retention and Rheological Properties of Mozzarella Cheese Made by Direct Acidification on sciencedirect.com by B. KELLER, N. F. OLSON, and T. RICHARDSON - ‎1974) https://pdf.sciencedirectassets.com...9fed274287895f007988627b6a94gxrqb&type=client

There are variety of additives next, either to work around problems from previous steps, add flavour, add scent, make it last longer or otherwise change some chemical nature of things. Calcium chloride for pasteurised to offset a problem with that or weak curds (goat can be tricky) being the more notable that are not just fruit or herbs or salt. If going further down the enzymes route then lipase can be added (Italian cheese making is especially fond of this).

So you have all the ingredients added to the equipment and you got to the point where the rennet is in. It will now form a custard like substance called curds. At this point you are supposed to cut the curd. Big chunks make for moist cheese, small for dryer. By cutting it you are getting rid of whey (you may have heard the term before in the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey", though today the term cottage cheese is probably more well known for that). Said whey can be used for other things in the kitchen, or indeed other types of cheese (see ricotta), but for the most part it is a discard product here.

Draining is next and like most steps in cheese making there are different types with different effects. Hung muslin bag vs lined colander being the soft vs hard approaches, and special cheese mould (as in thing to cause a liquid to take shape, not the life form mentioned earlier used for taste or creation of enzymes) to make for cheese that does not need a press later, though it will be a softer cheese (Brie and Camembert being popular examples here). Not sure what I want to say about cheese mats for this one, mainly as muslin has all sorts of other cooking purposes (jams and jellies) where cheese mats do less but do work well for cheese. They are also quite useful in the ageing process as you get some air flow going on if used properly which can be otherwise tricky.

If necessary you press the cheese next. You don't need anything crazy here (some books might be able to do it for some of them) and while dedicated presses are nice things (I quite like the buttress thread approach myself as they self maintain pressure once applied) they are not a requirement if you are a bit creative.

Salting is done next if doing a hard cheese, and is how the rind on the cheese is made ( https://www.thespruceeats.com/definition-of-natural-cheese-rind-591485 ). There are uses for softer cheeses as well as it changes the solubility of whey in various and can see it shed it more quickly. That said there are hard cheeses that will do less here and opt for wax instead (it is not just tradition that sees fancy cheese come in wax covering). If doing cheddar you might want to look up the bandaging process as well.

Drying and ageing. Ageing a massively important step (so much so some consider all that preceded it as much of a muchness and ageing is where it is at). Can be hard as you want a fairly regulated high humidity and temperature for it, and traditionally why caves were popular for this (indeed you might well hear the ageing setup you create referred to as a cave). Different cheeses call for different things, and some of them can be harder to create with common appliances (your fridge is likely too cold for some things, though the popularity of those small fridges kids have in rooms a few years back, and wine coolers, can get you there, as might your salad crisper/draw). I like kitchen gadgets but can not justify a dedicated cheese cave. Such means we will also be skipping airless ageing in this as it is not chemically that interesting and will likely never be done by you.
You also have the added bonus that in this modern world humidity sensors (which often are coupled with a temperature one) are really quite cheap and accurate. If it is too dry it will crack (see also what happens when you leave uncovered/unwrapped cheese in the fridge for too long) and too wet might see mould take on (or if you put some in because it is blue cheese then less marbled effect and more... yeah). Couple that with a nice sealing plastic container (though do see if you need to crack it once in a while and just allow the air to exchange) and you can do well.
Timeframes for this vary massively (can be years for certain hard cheeses, though more likely months), softer cheeses usually weeks to a month or two where "fresh cheese" (many types but think mozzarella, feta and such) have fair minimal times (days, if barely anything, which is also why they last very short amounts of time), and how much you need to do in it also varies (some will need mould brushed off once in a while and turning, others are maybe not leave it and come back in a while but enough that you make 20 minutes of effort once a week to check it). You can read up about the crazy exotic Italian ground aged types (Formaggio di Fossa if you want a term) on your own time.

Once that is done you can eat your cheese, though remember to account for the rind if you have an inedible one, and some might go a step further and coat it in things (quite a few people seem to like nuts and pineapple, again remembering to handle any rind issues you might have).

Edit. Same edit as above about malic acid. The next question following this sort of thing is "yoghurt?" and while a few things above can add to such things then that is far far easier


Hell no that shit ain't cheese especially the chemicals in a can version Americans love so much.
I was not necessarily talking about the canned/spray or slice version pictured by a poster above. In my experience most American takes on cheese join beer, bread and chocolate in things that would see their respective businesses go bankrupt if they tried selling it anywhere else that eats such things, never mind those places that produce it as a matter of course (I like my local baker but they would not make it in France sort of thing). It gets a bit better close to Canada but still takes effort.
 
Last edited by FAST6191,

FAST6191

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holy heck, tldr
Condensed version then

Get milk (cow is most popular but sheep and goat are options too)
Add bacteria to ferment it a bit if your milk does not have the necessary ones in it already (likely).
Add rennet (or other coagulating substance). If imitating rennet is not your thing then a lot of softer cheeses are made with acids instead.
Slice the resulting curds
Add extras for taste
Drain
Press (if necessary)
You might need to salt for harder cheese, and prepare for ageing.
Now you age. Depending upon the type of cheese it is then you will need to control temperature and humidity differently, and maybe further efforts like rotating the wheel and stopping mould from getting out of control.
Again depending upon the type of cheese then a day or two later, a week or eight later or a few months/couple of years later you will have your finished cheese.


I also forgot to mention last time there are dishes you can make that are lighter versions of this. An extremely popular Indian dessert is called Ras Malai and would give you an idea of some of the steps. Saffron gets a bit expensive but definitely worth it.
 
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