How is
Cheddar Cheese Made?

learn to make cheddar

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Milk Pasturized

Step 1: Milk pasturized

The milk is heated to 161 degrees for 15 seconds (pasteurized) to retard spoilage and promote product uniformity.

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Starter Culture Added

Step 2: Starter Culture

Starter cultures (harmless bacteria) are added to facilitate the development of flavor and texture. The starter culture converts lactose to lactic acid, preparing the milk for the addition of rennet.

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Coloring Added

Step 3: Coloring Added

To create yellow Cheddar, Annatto is mixed throughout the milk (white Cheddar does not include Annatto). Annatto is a tasteless, natural vegetable coloring. It is the reason why white and yellow Cheddars look different, but don't taste different.

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Rennet Added

Step 4: Rennet Added

Rennet - a milk-clotting enzyme - is added to coagulate the milk protein. After 30 minutes, the milk protein coagulates to the point of a custard-like gel.

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Cutting the Curd

Step 5: Cutting the Curd

The resulting gel is cut to form small curds. This allows the whey to begin to separate from the curd.

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Curd Heated

Step 6: Curd Heated

The mixture is heated to 100 degrees under constant stirring, helping the curds start to melt together a little.

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Whey is Drained

Step 7: Whey is Drained

Once the whey—a natural byproduct of the cheesemaking process—has separated from the curd, it is drained.

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Moisture Removed

Step 8: Moisture Removed

After the warmed curd has a little time to sit, it is cut into block-like loaves that are piled on top of each other to press out more moisture. This step is repeated until the layers are each a thick mass, a process known as Cheddaring. During Cheddaring, acidity rises slightly in a controlled fashion that allows the cheese to properly age into its trademark flavor profile.

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Milling

Step 9: Milling

The blocks are put through a mill that cuts them into smaller pieces. These pieces are the cheese curds that Wisconsin is famous for: squeaky and flavorful little bits of young cheese on its way to becoming Cheddar.

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Salt Added

Step 10: Salt Added

Salt is added to restrict the growth of naturally occurring bacteria, make the curd structure smaller via dehydration and add flavor to the cheese.

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Molding and Aging

Step 11: Molding & Aging

The cheese curds are poured into molds giving the cheese a dense texture. The cheese is aged in these molds in humidity & temperature controlled rooms. During this process, protein and fats are naturally broken down into simpler compounds, allowing for the full development of Cheddar's delightfully sharp flavor and texture.