Cheese and where it comes from


Among the many culinary delights that the Belpaese can boasts, certainly for the richness and choice that the dairy sector has, it deserves a special mention. In fact, Italy produces more varieties than any other country in the world, and its cheese is the best known worldwide, but often a lot of ignorance circulates about the methods of milk processing, methods which constitue a real and ancient essence. If you too, like many don’t know exactly how the processes works, that starts from fresh milk on our tables and turns into the best dairy products in the world, then don’t worry, we at Italian Traditionsday will try to clarify your confusion today!

Let's start from the raw material: Milk is an animal-derived product for dairy use, it is milked from the cow, the sheep, the goat and buffalo. Within the breast this milk is sterile, meaning it has no microbiological life, but just as soon as it gets out, with the milking process, it immediately takes on its own life. With the air, contact of the hands, occur the first natural forms of contamination already, which is useful for the cheese making process. The milk is then poured into a boiler (usually steel or copper ), where it is heated to a temperature that varies according to the cheese that is to be obtained. It isalso possible to inoculate natural lactic or selected bacteria, and then add the rennet, in practice, enzymes extracted from the fourth layer of the suckling mammals, such as the calf, or lamb. The rennet is able to coagulate the particles of fat mass, not soluble in water, so that form a floating gelatinous mass and fragile called junket or curd. From this basis, we obtain the various types of cheese, in general divided into three large families, depending on the process and thus the taste: soft cheese, semi-hard and hard.

In order for the curd to be transformed into paste, however, it is necessary to put it in condition to purge the water it contains. This step is called the break, and is performed using sharp tools such as a skimmer, which allows the curds to lose the amount of serum required to produce cheese. The paste, after losing a predetermined amount of serum, is usually cooked, then extracted and placed in baskets in cane or plastic. Many types of cheese, especially soft cheese, at this point should braise, or remain on the humid heat for a certain time. Others, particularly those that are semi-hard or hard, are at this point pressed with weights, mechanical or hydraulic presses.

All types of cheeses then, with minor exceptions, need to be salted in brine or dry. The last fundamental stage is the maturation: Cheese not subject to aging is rare, and most of them, albeit for a few hours or days, must mature in order to be able to undergo physical mutation, organoleptic and microbiological, enabling the primitive milk paste taking on specific tastes, smells and flavors.

These are briefly, the main processing steps related to the production of dairy products, but of course they can also vary greatly depending on the different types of cheese to be produced. On the other hand, cheesemaking is an ancient art and highly developed in Italy, and it would be impossible to reduce the creation of the best dairy products in the world to a single, static procedure. However, we are content to be able to happily enjoy these delicacies Made in Italy every day on our tables, which should not be taken for granted.