Any cheesemakers?

Now that Collounsbury is gone…

Not sure if this should be here or GQ. It’s technological, sort of, but it also closely involves nummy cheese.

I have seen at the supermarket cheddar cheese for sale. The cheese comes in several different grades of sharpness, from the abomination known as “mild” to “extra sharp”.

What is the technological aspect of the cheesemaking process that makes it possible for such divergent results to come out of the cheesemaker’s mold? Are different proportions of ingredients added at the beginning of the process? Does the difference lie in how much time the cheese is allowed to age before packaging? Is there a difference in the environments in which the cheeses age?

Or is it some combination of the three, perhaps augmented by other factors?

I really want to know the answer (for my own purposes of course), but I thought it would have been disingenuous to add (Need Answer FAST) to the thread title.

I’ve made a few different cheeses but I wouldn’t call myself a cheesemaker. My understanding is that the sharpness comes primarily from aging but there are other factors that affect it as well, like the kind of milk you use, which enzymes you choose to add and the original acidity of your milk(cheesemakers regularly adjust pH).

Blessed are the cheesemakers.

It’s not to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturer of dairy products.

I’ll ask my local cheesemeister the next time I see him.

(Of course I know a cheesemeister!)

Last time I spoke with him, he told me that aged cheddars really don’t get much sharper once they’ve reached 8 or so years of age. He elaborated on the process at the time, but I was unable to retain all the technical details. He was giving me a tour of his design center that also serves as his cheese factory. (Beechwood Cheese if you want to see what he makes:

BTW, those delightful crunchy bits in aged cheddar are not salt or calcium, but rather crystallized cheese proteins. Or so says my cheesemeister.

So I can’t “repair” any mild cheddar I might accidentally pick up in the store by bunging it into a limestone cave for a few months?* :frowning:

*'Cos I would totally have been willing to have a limestone cave installed in the back yard of my apartment if that would work.

I think you can successfully age it yourself. As long as it wasn’t opened, it probably won’t mold. That’s how I age my own cheddars. I buy 'em at 3 or 5 years of age, and keep up for another 3-5 years. When I can resist the temptation.

Despite what my cheesemeister says, I think 11 year old cheddar really is sharper than the 8 year old stuff.

BTW, what’s this ‘months’ stuff of which you speak?

Awesome! How do you do it? I’m guessing that leaving them in the back of the refrigerator won’t help. Do YOU have a limestone cheese-aging cellar?

I leave mine in the back of the refrigerator…

Huh. Well, I guess I won’t sweat it the next time I find the wrong grade of cheese in the shopping bag when I get home.

Should I presume that block cheese rather than shredded is more likely to be successful with this approach?

I opened this thread specifically to see how long it would take before someone posted that.