BBC Focus - Science & Technology|July 2020
THE MILKY WAY
All cheeses start their lives as milk. Most animal milks can be used, including cow, buffalo, goat, sheep and even camel. The milk is first warmed to a temperature perfect for milk-loving microbes to flourish. Next, acid or rennet is added, possibly alongside some ‘starter’ bacteria, This causes the milk proteins and fats to coagulate together into ugly white clumps, ‘curdling’ the milk. These fat-laden ‘curds’ then float to the surface of the milky liquid, the ‘whey’. The curds can then be drained, removed and chopped into chunks, according to the type of cheese being made – walnut-sized blobs for soft cheeses, and small grains for hard cheeses.
The curds are scooped into moulds, but the initial ‘starter’ bacteria, which give cheese its lactic acid tang, die off over several weeks to make room for a microbe superhighway of new flavour generators. Plenty of salt is added to the mix to stop any rancid milk-loving microbes from spoiling the brew.
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