We produce approximately 40,000 lbs of a variety (about 15 different kinds) of natural cheeses annually available in half pound and one pound packages!
The following is a general description of how we make cheese at Babcock:
- Standardize raw milk as needed for the specific cheese type.
- Pasteurize milk at 164° F for not less than 15 seconds.
- Pump milk from the pasteurizer to the cheese vat at approximately 80° F.
- These are the general steps for cheese production:
- Add culture to the warm milk.
- Add annatto color as needed.
- Add rennet (a protein enzyme).
- Remove agitation and allow time for the milk to clot or coagulate.
- After about 20 minutes, the cheese maker will cut the coagulum using vertical and horizontal cutting wires.
- The liquid byproduct, otherwise known as whey, will begin to separate from the curd. After a short period of time, start the agitation and cooking process as needed. The cooking process will allow for greater extraction of whey from the curd.
- After a short period of time, the whey is then drained off, leaving just the curds.
- The curds are hooped or placed in cheese forms.
- Salt is added directly into the curds or in the brining process.
- After pressing the blocks are cooled down, vacuum-sealed, and placed in our curing room for anywhere from 2 months to 2 years, depending on the cheese.
Cheese is made by treating milk so that it coagulates into curd (a thick, custard-like solid) and, at the same time, releases a thin, watery liquid called "whey." The curd is then prepared and ripened, becoming the basis for the cheese.
The type of cheese made depends on a wide variety of factors: the animal from which the milk comes; the soil, grasses, water and climate of the region in which the animal grazes; and the cheese making process used.
Shelf life of cheeses will vary. A general rule is the softer the cheese (higher moisture), the shorter the shelf life; the harder the cheese (lower moisture), the longer the shelf life.
- Soft unripened cheeses (ricotta, cottage cheese): shelf life of 2 to 4 weeks
- Soft-ripened cheeses (brie): shelf life of 4 to 8 weeks
- Semi-soft cheeses (muenster, Monterey Jack): shelf life of 2 to 3 months
- Firm cheeses (Swiss, Cheddar): shelf life of 3 to 6 months
- Hard cheeses (Parmesan, Romano): shelf life of 7 to 9 months
- Processed cheeses (American): shelf life of 9 to 12 months