Processed Cheese Making

The following points will elucidate the processed cheese making in a step by step manner.

Receiving raw cheese (Natural cheese)

The manufacturers of processed cheese generally prefer to control the ripening of cheeses intended for processing in order to get the desired quality and quantity of the end product.

Analysis of the raw cheese

Each and every block of cheese is sampled and analyzed for important parameters such as acidity, fat, moisture, salt etc. Records of analysis shall be maintained properly till the processed cheese is marketed.

Selection and Blending of the natural cheese

Different age groups of cheeses are selected and brought together depending on the need and this process is called blending. Proper blending results in desired physical characteristics and uniformity of chemical composition in the end product. An experienced blender should possess judgment, experience, and technical skills to achieve success.

Although different blenders follow different guidelines, the generally practiced blending method involves selecting 75% of the cheese from 0-3 months age group and 25% of the cheese from 6-12 months old. Inclusion of highly sour cheese shall be limited to 5% and gassy cheese to 2% of the total cheese. Raw cheese selection requires great skill and age, acidity, pH, body, texture, and composition of the cheese blocks available are among the factors that have to be taken into account.

Tempering and cleaning of the raw cheese

It refers to bringing the cheese to proper consistency and hardness. Removal of inedible portion from the cheese before processing is referred to as cleaning. Cheese is brought from the curing room to the blending room till it attains room temperature and this usually takes 24-48h, referred to as tempering. It helps to soften cheese and aids in cleaning, cutting and grinding operations. Tempering operation is generally followed by cleaning and later it is processed. The outer layer, consisting of paraffin wax is removed followed by removal / scraping off of inedible portions of cheese.

Quartering and grinding

Cutting the cheese blocks into four pieces each is called quartering to facilitate grinding. Depending on the size, the individual blocks are further cut into smaller pieces or fed as such into the grinder which is similar to meat grinder. Heavy metal grinder is used to grind large sized cheese blocks.

Processing

It includes different operations including addition of water, colour, salt, emulsifiers followed by heating, stirring and emptying the kettle and packaging.

Addition of water, color, emulsifiers and salt

Initially a part of shredded cheese is added to the processing kettle to which are added calculated amount of water, color, emulsifier and salt. Later the remaining portions of ground cheese is added to the kettle. The emulsifier helps to prevent fat separation during heating, imparts specific soft and smooth characteristics in the body and texture of the finished product and produces desirable melting and slicing properties in the processed cheese. Disodium phosphate and trisodium citrate are the two commonly used emulsifiers. Some times Rochelle salt, sodium pyrophosphate and sodium metaphosphate are also used. The amount of emulsifiers added varies from 0.5 to 3.0% by weight of cheese. It is usually added after mixing it with required quantity of water.

Heating, stirring and emptying of the kettle

During early periods, the kettle used was open, upright, steam jacketed with dual agitators. But the modern kettle used nowadays is a closed type with provision for vacuum or air supply to aid in heating or emptying the kettle. The optimum temperature - time combination of processing the cheese is 65°C for 5 minutes. A higher heating temperature time combination is followed nowadays at 80°C for 10 minutes which results in better microbial destruction besides improving the shelf life of the product.

Packaging

The cheese when processed is conveyed straight to the filling machine when operated on a large scale basis. When operated on a small scale level, it is usually sent to the final package itself. Care has to be exercised while packaging the cheese to see that it is hot and well stirred and under semi fluid condition which is a pre-requisite for packaging.

Cooling and storage

Slow cooling of packaged processed cheese is done to a temperature of 18-21°C and then it may be stored under refrigerated temperature (2-4°C).

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About The Author, Kathirvelu Thenmozhi
The author is an expert in Dairy Science; for more info on milk and dairy products please visit her site http://www.dairyforall.com , A Professional Dairy Site. More interesting information on cheese at: http://www.dairyforall.com/cheese.php; Source http://www.dairyforall.com/cheese-processed.php