Glossary of Cheese Making Terms
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Acidification: The development of acid and pH activity in milk or cheese.
Acidity: The measurement or unit of measurement of acid activity in milk or cheese.
Affinage: Caring for aged cheese to reach its best potential or desired outcome
Aged: Cheese that has been cared for per the cheeses necessary requirements. Control of environment.
Aging: Holding a cheese at a specific temperature and humidity for desired flavor and outcome in a controlled environment for a specific period of time.
Albuminous protein: Protein in milk that cannot be precipitated out by the addition of rennet. Albuminous protein remains in the whey and is precipitated by high temperature to make ricotta.
Alkaline: A substance of sorts with a pH above 7.
Alkaline Phosphate: Used to test pasteurization. A naturally occurring enzyme in milk destroyed during the pasteurization process.
Ambient Temperature: The average temperature of an enclosed aging space.
Annato: Natural cheese coloring derived from the achiote fruit.
Aroma: Scent or smell, also a category describing a mesophilic culture which gives off a buttery or creamy scent.
Ash: Charcoal derived from vegetable matter used to neutralize the surface pH of cheese and create a friendly environment for mold growth.
Bacteria (in cheesemaking): Microscopic unicellular organisms found almost everywhere. Lactic acid-producing; bacteria are helpful and necessary for making quality hard cheese.
Bacteriophage: Viruses that inject their own genetic material and destroying their host bacteria.
Bacteria ripened cheese: A cheese upon whose surface bacterial growth is encouraged to develop in order to produce a distinct flavor. Brick and Limburger are examples of bacteria ripened cheeses.
Bactofugation: A mechanical process that removes bacteria and somatic cells from warm milk using centrifugal force.
Bandaging: Use of binding agent applied to a wheel of cheese, then sealing with butter muslin to keep its shape, preserve its coat and prevent the loss of excess moisture through evaporation during aging.
Bloomy Rind: Type of rind found on mold ripened cheeses such as brie or Camembert. Usually white and slightly fluffy to touch.
Blowing: Swelling of the cheese due to uneven gas production usually caused by coliform bacteria.
Brevibacterium Linens (B. Linenes): Bacteria smear used for “stinky” cheese such as Muenster. A red bacterium that is encouraged to grow on the surface of certain cheeses, to produce a sharp flavor.
Brine: Salt water based solution used for salting, soaking, storing cheese.
bST: Bovine Somatotropin. A growth hormone found in cows. Naturally occurring not to be confused with the lab made rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin).
Butterfat: The fat portion (cream) of milk expressed as a percentage of total weight. Butterfat content varies depending on type of animal and other factors.
Buttermilk: Residual milk left after churning butter.
Butter muslin: 90 thread count per square inch, tightly woven cotton cloth used to drain soft cheese.
Butyric Acid: associated with rotten flavors caused by unwanted bacteria.
Calcium: An element ion crucial to the structural integrity of curd. The mineral salt in milk.
Calcium Chloride: Used to supplement milk with specified measurements to add structural integrity to milk for cheese production. Also used in brine solutions for maintaining mineral equilibrium
Capric: A short chained fatty acid in all milk but more being found in goats milk. Usually accounted with flavor and aroma complexities and development.
Casein: One of the 2 main proteins found in milk. Casein protein is responsible for the curd, during coagulation.
Cave: An aging space for developing cheese.
Cheddar: Style of cheese, also preparation technique. Cheddaring consists of breaking the curd into strips and stacking of warm curd to promote more drainage of whey.
Cheese Board: A small piece of ash, fir, maple or birch, with no knots, typically measuring 6 inches square and 1 inch thick, often used to help drama spot cheeses, such as Camembert. Larger cheese boards are often used to hold cheeses during the aging process.
Cheese Cloth: A finely woven cotton cloth used to drain curds, line cheese molds, and perform a host of other cheese making functions. Only use cheesecloth intended for use in cheese making.
Cheese Mat: A weaved food safe plastic or wooden mat, used in drying an aging cheese.
Cheese Salt: A coarse, nonionized flake salt.
Cheese Wrap: A permeable cellophane for wrapping cheese.
Chymosin: The enzyme found in the fourth stomach of a young ruminant, used for coagulating milk into curd.
Citric Acid: Used to directly acidify milk. Natural acidification agent found in citric fruits, but at its purest form.
Clean Break: A curd testing technique looking for a smooth separation of the curd through use of curd knife or other utensil permeating curd the mass at a 45 degree angle. A grainy break is not ideal, as it shows an easily breakable and brittle curd, and requires longer set times.
Clostridium: Bacteria responsible for undesirable holes in aged cheese, and late blowing.
Coagulation: The point at which milk congeals into a thickened mass.
Coliforms: A bacteria family that’s usually associated with soil fecal matter. Causes what’s called “blowing” in cheese and should never be consumed.
Cooking: A step in cheesemaking during which the cut curd is warmed to expel more whey.
Coulommiers mold: A stainless-steel mold consisting of two hoops, one resting inside the other. The mold is used to make Coulommiers cheese.
Cream Line: The visible separation of cream as it floats on top of un-homogenized milk.
Cryoglobulin: Protein that exists in cow’s milk that speeds clumping of fat globules and promotes cream volume.
Culture: Refers to the added lactic acid producing bacteria or other adjunct bacteria or yeast, which is introduced to the milk for specific outcomes in cheesemaking.
Curd knife: Straight bladed or dull knife utilized in the cutting of specific sized curd shapes for various styles of cheese. This knife’s blade should reach the bottom of the pot without immersing the handle.
Curds: The solid coagulant made of casein protein and other milk components, which after specific treatment, become cheese.
Cutting: Uniform separation of curd mass into desired easily manipulative curd pieces.
Dairy Thermometer: Tool ranging from 0-220 degrees F used for measuring temperature of milk, curd or whey.
Diacetyl: A CO2 producing compound contributing to a buttery aroma in cheese.
Direct Set Starter: A prepackaged starter culture added directly to milk to turn milk protein into a solid white gel for the purpose of cheese making.
Disaccharide: A sugar composed of two simple sugars. Lactose is a disaccharide made up of one molecule of galactose on one of glucose.
D-Lactate: Lactic acid that has been produced as a result of the fermentation of lactose.
Draining: A step in cheese making in which the whey is separated from the curds by ladling the curds and whey into a colander lined with cheesecloth.
Double Cream: Refers to 60% butterfat cheeses.
Drying: Phase of cheese making during which a cheese is allowed to sit and evaporate moisture, so as to form a protective rind in anticipation of the aging process.
Dry Milk Powder: Dehydrated milk solids that may be reconstituted in water.
Dry Salting: Applying cheese salt directly to the rind of the cheese mass.
DVI: Stands for Direct Vat Inoculation. Refers to starter culture that is added to the milk at the time of cheese making.
Enzymes: Proteins responsible for creating or breaking chemical bonds. Rennet is used because its enzymes coagulate the casein protein into curd.
Eyes: Holes or openings within the cheese wheel caused by natural gas production. Swiss cheese is the best example for this.
Exopolysaccharides: Slimy compounds produced by some bacteria.
Farmstead Cheese: Cheese produced using milk from the same location/farm.
Fat content: The percent of weight of butterfat in milk or other dairy products.
Fatty Acid: An acid associated molecularly with fats and oils.
Fermentation: Conversion of a specific substance into a desired product utilizing micro organisms and their ability to breakdown and transform sugars into acid, gas etc.
Flocculation: The point when proteins start to collect in milk during coagulation. The flocculation point can be observed as small white specs when the coagulating milk is moved. These specs are also called “flocs”
Flora Danica: A fresh starter culture that may be used as either a direct set or a re-culturable starter.
Follower: the piece of equipment used to cover the whole surface of the cheese, between the press plunger and cheese wheel, to equally distribute pressure to the whole curd mass.
Food grade: An accepted term for a surface, or piece of equipment deemed safe for contact with food.
Fresh Cheese: Cheese that does not require long aging, such as mozzarella. Usually ready to eat between 1-3 days if not immediately.
Galactose: One of two simple sugars that compose lactose.
Globule: Small spherical collection of specific substance. Milk fat globules are manipulated in cheese making.
Glucose: One of two simple sugars that compose lactose.
Glycolysis: The breaking down of sugar.
Geotrichum Candidum: White mold species utilized in the production of a bloomy rind.
Halotolerant: Microorganisms able to withstand the effects of salt.
Hard Cheese: A cheese that is firm or hard in texture because a high percentage of moisture is removed during the cheese making process. Hard cheeses are pressed and aged for varying lengths of time for full flavor development.
Harp/Cheese Harp: A curved and wired tool for cutting cheese curds while still in the pot.
Heat Treated (milk): Pasteurized, Ultra Pasteurized or High Temperature Pasterized milk; milk that has been sterilized by heating to kill bacteria.
Heterofermenters: Bacteria that can transform sugars into more than one resulting end product.
Homofermenters: Bacteria that can only transform sugars into one resulting end product.
Homogenization: The processes of mechanically consolidating fat globules to avoid the separation of cream from the milk.
Hygrometer: a tool used for measuring relative humidity in a specific environment.
Indirect Heating: Heating milk for cheesemaking by placing the pot into a large container or sink full of hot water
Inoculation: Introducing microorganisms to a specific medium to promote growth. In cheese making we inoculate bacteria to milk for various specific outcome and most importantly, a change in pH.
Ion: An atom and/or molecule with a positive or negative electrical charge.
Junket Rennet: A weak form of rennet using enzymes from an adult ruminant’s stomach. Most commonly found in grocery stores.
Kefir: A fermented milk drink made from the use of DVI starter culture or "kefir grains". Kefir is usually more sour in taste and much lighter in consistency than yogurt, making it easily drinkable and accessible as a health source for nutrients and (sometimes) probiotics.
Lactase: Enzymes that breaks down lactose (milk sugar) into its two simple sugars: glucose and galactose.
Lactic Acid: A natural acid produced as a byproduct of the bacteria fermenting milk sugars in the process of cheese making.
Lactose: Milk sugar made up of glucose and galactose. In cheese making, lactose is converted by acidifying agents into lactic acid.
Lipase: an enzyme which breaks down proteins into more complex structures as used for promoting more complex flavors in cheese making.
Lipolysis: The enzymatic breakdown of fats.
Lipophilic: Substance’s which can be dissolved and suspended within fat and oil.
Lipophobic: Substances which will not resolve with combined with oil and fat.
L-Lactate: Lactic acid that is produced by the fermentation of lactose.
Low-fat Milk: Milk that has most of the cream removed, resulting in a butterfat contend of 1 or
Matting: The (sometimes unwanted) binding together of cheese curd as a result of allowing curds to rest in the vat.
Mesophilic Bacteria: Microorganisms that function best in temperatures in the 70 degree Fahrenheit to 90 degree Fahrenheit range (no higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit). Meso refers to the term middle” as in middle temperature range, as opposed to the much more heat tolerant Thermophilic Bacteria.
Micelle: A cluster of molecules suspended in liquid.
Microbial Rennet: Rennet produced through collecting enzymes off of a host plant. These enzymes are produced by microbes. Used as a vegetarian option to animal rennet.
Microflora: Usually referring to natural/native or introduced bacteria in an aging environment. Microorganism: A term referring to microscopic life such as bacteria and yeast.
Milkstone: A milk residue that is deposited on cheesemaking utensils over time.
Milling: Breaking up pressed curds into smaller, specific sizes for certain recipes.
Mites: Microscopic bugs found on the rind of aged cheeses in and in aging spaces. Sometimes they are used intentionally for certain styles of cheese.
Mold: 1. A form used to manipulate, drain whey and determine the final shape of the pressed cheese. Used also during pressing to keep cheese structure in tact.
2. Bacterial growth manifest. Can be both desirable and harmful depending on your project.
Molding: A step in cheesemaking during which the curd is placed into a cheese form.
Mold Ripened: A cheese whose surface and/or interior is exposed to specific bacteria and encouraged to grow and develop with the cheese. The two types of mold commonly used are blue mold (Penecilium Roqueforti) and white mold (Penecilium Camemberti).
Molecule: A cluster of atoms bonded together.
Morge: A term for a brine and bacteria solution used to develop a washed rind cheese.
Natural Rind: A firm cheese that has been left to age without use of wax or clothbound technique.
Noncorrosive: Refers to neutral cookware that has no adverse response to acidifying agents or ingredients including milk, in the cheesemaking process.
Nonstarter Lactic Acid Bacteria: Refers to any bacteria that will produce lactic acid but at a rate too slow to assist with the initial “starting” of the cheese, contributing to flavor.
Oiling: The application of vegetable oil to provide a protective layer to keep a cheese from drying out.
Overripe: Cheese allowed to age for too long. Rotten or on its way to being.
Pasteurization: The heat treating of milk to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes in order to sterilize and destroy pathogenic organisms that may be harmful if consumed by people.
Pathogen: A dangerous microorganism that causes sickness and/or infection.
Penicillium Camemberti: A white mold that grows on the surface of a number of soft mold ripened cheese creating a white skin like rind.
Penicillium Candidum: A white mold that grows on the surface of a number of soft mold ripened cheeses creating a white skin like rind.
Penicillium Roqueforti: a blue and/or green mold found on the surface and in the veins of blue cheese.
Pepsin: Enzyme that breaks down proteins found in a ruminants stomach, that coagulates milk at a quick rate, producing bitterness.
pH: a measure of acid content in a substance on a scale of 0-14, with 7 as the medium.
pH Meter: a tool used to measure the pH of a cheese or milk.
Piercing: A technique of puncturing rounds of cheese to introduce air and promote desired mold growth.
Piquant: A term used to describe a spicy note caused by enzymatic breakdown of aged cheese.
Pitch: Term used to describe when curd is left to settle in the vat, without the whey being drained.
Plyban: Synthetic, disposable cheesecloth.
Pressing: A step in cheese making during which the cooked curds are placed into a cheesecloth lined mold with weight on top of them to force out more whey.
Proper break: Desired result of a test made during the making of Swiss cheese. To make certain the curds are properly cooked, a handful is wadded into a ball. If the ball of curds can be easily broken back into individual curd particles, that is considered a proper break.
Protease: Enzymes that break down proteins
Proteins: A molecule made up of peptides responsible for the structure of cheese curd. Casien and whey are both examples of proteins.
Protyolytic: Protein consuming enzymes which break down protein structures for more complex flavors and aromas in cheese making and aging.
Psychrotroph: A term used to describe cold loving bacterium that can grow at temperatures equal to or lower than 7 degrees C. This bacterium is commonly responsible or problems with texture and bitterness in the cheese's paste.
Raw Milk: Milk that has not been tampered with or treated, straight from the animal.
Red Bacteria: see Brevibacterium Linens.
Redressing: The changing of cheesecloth on a cheese that is being drained or pressed. This is required to keep the cheesecloth from sticking to the cheese.
Rennet: A substance that contains the enzyme rennin or chymosin, which has the ability to coagulate milk. Rennet comes in liquid, tablet, paste and powder forms. Animal-derived rennet comes from the fourth stomach of a milk fed calf. Vegetable-derived rennet is a microbial rennet that contains no animal products.
Rind: The exterior of cheese. Sometimes edible, but usually removed before consumption. Rind is the result of aging cheese.
Ripening: A step in cheese making in which milk is allowed to undergo an increase in acidity as a result of the activity of cheese starter culture bacteria.
Ripening Bacteria: Bacteria that is still active during the aging process.
Ruminant: An animal that has a complex digestive system including a rumen.
Salting: Introducing sodium chloride to curds before molding , or the application of cheese salt to the surface of the finished cheese either dry or through brining. See also Dry Salting
Saturated Brine Solution: A salt water solution in which cheese is soaked. Water is saturated when it will no longer dissolve any additional salt.
Secondary (Adjunct) Cultures: An additional culture blend added for a specific effect, that the original acidifying agent would not have produced on its own.
Semi Soft: A term referring to cheese styles that are chewy, but not spreadable.
Setting: Allowing curds to sit undisturbed for a specific result.
Sharp: Usually refers to cheese with higher acidity.
Skimmed Milk: A term used to describe milk after its fat has been removed.
Skimmer: A perforated tool, usually spoon shaped, for mixing curds and transferring them for draining.
Smear Bacteria: A specific bacteria applied to the surface of a cheese to promote controlled, desirable bacteria development and resulting cheese flavor.
Soft Cheese: A cheese that is not pressed, has a high moisture content, and is either not aged at all or aged for a comparatively short period.
Stabilized Paste: Surface white mold ripened cheese made utilizing methods of limiting the softening of the paste, for a longer shelf life for commercial resale.
Starter Culture: A quantity of live bacteria added to milk as the first step in making many cheeses. The bacteria produce an acid during their life cycle in the milk. There are two categories of starter culture: mesophilic and thermophilic.
Sterilize: Elimination of all microorganisms.
Surface Ripened: Cheese that has been specially treated so that the bacteria on the surface of the cheese promotes and manipulates the maturation of the cheese past.
Terroir: A French term referring to ‘placeness’, or “locality specific characteristics”. A combination or outside influences on the final product, including weather, diet, soil, natural fauna and so on.
Thermization: Heat treating milk at temperatures under legal pasteurization levels. Destroys some, not all bacteria.
Thermophilic Bacteria: Microorganisms that function best in temperatures in the 104 degree Fahrenheit to 122 degree Fahrenheit range. Recipes for cheese such as Parmesan use thermophilic bacteria.
Top-stirring: Stirring the top 1/4th of non-homogenized milk immediately after rennet has been added order to keep the cream from rising.
Trier: A stainless-steel tool used to take samples from a cheese as it ages to determine whether it is properly matured and ready for eating.
Triglyceride: A fat consisting of three fatty acid chains.
Triple Cream: 75% butterfat cheese.
Tyrosine: An amino acid that can form crystals overtime, found primarily in aged Italian, Dutch and Swiss style cheeses. The crystals are generally found on the surface or in the holes of aged cheeses, and have a distinct flavor.
Ultra Pasteurized: Milk and cream that has been super heat treated to promote longer shelf life. Ultra pasteurized milk is not good for cheese making.
Vegetable Ash: activated charcoal used to coat the exterior surface of certain cheese for acid
control and aesthetics.
Washed Curds: Curds that have been drained of whey and heated in water, reducing the
lactose level and acid development in vat.
Washed Rind: A cheese that has been treated with a bacterial or salt brine or sprits as part of
the aging process.
Waxed: A cheese rind coated in paraffin or similar sealing material for air exposure and oxygen
Whey: The lactose carrying solution which is drained from curd in the cheese making process.
Whey is comprised of water, milk sugar, albuminous proteins and minerals.
Yield: Amount of cheese as a result of your recipe and process.
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