Full text loading...
Chapter 4 : Mesophilic and Thermophilic Cultures Used in Traditional Cheesemaking
The art of cheesemaking is strongly rooted in the cheesemaker’s ability to control the growth and metabolism of microorganisms. Whether these microorganisms are already present in the raw milk as “natural” contaminants, are added to the milk, or are nurtured in ripening or curing rooms, the skilled cheesemaker knows that the quality and safety of cheese are due to controlling the growth and metabolism of microorganisms. Milk quality in terms of both chemical composition and microbiological populations is dependent upon the producer, but the milk accepted for cheesemaking is the choice of the cheesemaker. Most of the defects observed with cheese in terms of undesirable flavors or physical characteristics have their origin in microbial growth. However, there are two important aspects to be considered, growth of undesirable microorganisms and excessive or limited growth of desirable microorganisms. The former is largely addressed through strict hygienic practices on the farm and at the cheese factory or curing facilities. The latter is a critical step controlled by the cheesemaker during cheesemaking and by the affineur, who controls the curing or aging of the cheese. A quote from Cheddar Cheese Making by Decker ( 1 ) sums it up perfectly: “Nearly all the trouble we have in cheese making is due to the action of definite living vegetative cells that have the power of manufacturing certain decomposition products; on the other hand, we could not produce fine cheese without the presence of certain forms of bacteria that are able to change milk, producing the fine desired flavors.”