How is cheese made?

Cheese production is a lengthy process that requires a great deal of experience. Combined with innovation, this results in unique cheeses. Find out step by step how cheese is made in our blog post. 

cheese production

1. milk production on the farm
To produce excellent cheese, you need milk of impeccable quality. Depending on the type of cheese or the requirements of a variety organization, the milk to be processed is delivered to the cheese dairy 1-2 times a day or every other day. Either the farmers bring the milk to the cheese dairy themselves or a milk collection truck collects the milk directly from the farm. In some cases, the farmers also take the milk to a central collection point, from where the milk is taken to a milk processor. The milk must be stored and processed under controlled conditions at all times. The mooh cooperative works with 18 transport companies throughout Switzerland to transport an average of 11-12 million kilograms of milk from the farms to the milk processing plants every week. In particular, it is a challenge to ensure efficient logistics despite the different types of milk and labels. 

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milk reception

2. milk reception & milk treatment
The milk delivered must meet high quality standards so that it can be processed into cheese. To monitor quality, the milk is analyzed for the following parameters:
- Cell count, which allows conclusions to be drawn about udder health
- Bacterial count, which is an indicator of barn and milking hygiene.
- Inhibitor, which indicates whether antibiotics are present in the milk.
- Freezing point, which indicates whether the milk has been watered down.

The milk is heated to approx. 30°C before entering the cheese vat and the fat content is standardized. When cheese is made from pasteurized milk, it is heated (pasteurized) before being added to the cheese vat. The milk's own flora with its bacteria and enzymes give the cheese its individual aroma.

3. coagulation of the milk
After preparation, the milk is carefully poured into the cheese vat and the coagulation process begins. The actual coagulation process begins with the addition of the rennet enzyme. During this time, a smooth, homogeneous mass or, as it is called in technical jargon, a curd is formed

gift cheese

4. curd processing and pre-cheesemaking
Once the desired degree of thickening has been achieved, the curd is cut into regular curd grains using a harp. Depending on the type of cheese being produced, the size of the curd grains can vary from as small as a grain of corn to as large as a hazelnut. During the stirring process, the curd-whey mixture is heated. This heating causes the curd grains to contract further and release whey. The whey is a valuable by-product of cheese production and is either reused as food or fed to pigs. The curd-whey mixture is filled into molds and pressed. The whey is further separated and the curds are pressed into a cheese wheel

5. salt bath
As the name suggests, the cheeses are bathed in salt water during this process step. For a few hours (soft cheese) to 18 days (Sbrinz), the cheese absorbs salt thanks to the osmosis effect. The salt absorption in the cheese wheel has a positive influence on the shelf life of the cheese and on the taste. 

salt bath
mature cellar cheese

6. ripening
The main protagonist of the ripening process is the casein (milk protein) it contains. During storage, this casein is broken down by proteases (protein-degrading enzymes). In technical terms, this process is known as proteolysis. During the ripening process, the texture changes on the one hand and on the other, the degradation products create a complex taste. Each type of cheese has its own very specific characteristics. In order for the cheese wheel to develop its desired flavor and texture, the cheese ripening process is of crucial importance. The cheese ripening process is a complex chemical process that requires a great deal of sensitivity and experience. Even small nuances can lead to a different taste. Factors such as the quality of the raw milk, the choice of bacteria, the climate in the ripening cellar, the pH value and the production parameters all play a key role.

7. ripening: bacteria & culture selection
Bacteria do not just start to work during the cheese ripening process, but are already indispensable helpers during the cheese-making process. During the first 24 hours, the added cultures break down the lactose (= milk sugar) contained in the milk into lactic acid (= lactate). This is why cheese is basically lactose-free. This acidification of the milk and the added rennet cause the milk to precipitate. Separation of the milk into curd and whey Each type of bacteria has its own specific properties and these give the cheeses their typical character. Together with the process parameters, they are responsible for the variety of cheeses. Varietal cheeses such as Appenzeller, Emmentaler AOP and Tête de Moine are marked by the addition of so-called proof-of-origin cultures to protect the brands from counterfeiting.

Cheese ripening
mature cellar cheese

8. climate & pH value in the ripening cellar:
Ripening takes place in climates that are typical for the variety. Both the temperature and the relative humidity are crucial for maintaining a constant cheese quality. The pH value indicates how acidic or alkaline a solution is. Measuring the pH is one way of monitoring and recording the progression during the cheese-making process.

The production parameters must also be taken into account in the interplay of factors on the maturing process. The complex chemical, enzymatic and bacteriological processes during maturation can only proceed as planned if all specifications are meticulously adhered to throughout the entire production process.



Simple, convenient and always surprising. Swiss cheese enjoyment at home.