The Artisan Cheesemaker.

Acidity Control (2)

Enzymes: are catalysts, they initiate innumerable reactions in your milk and in your cheese.
Distinct enzymes tend to initiate definite reactions. Lipase, as we have seen, cause the breakdown of fats.
Protease cause the breakdown of protein. This is proteolysis (protein - protease - lysis - proteolysis).
Casein is the major protein found in milk or cheese, and this forms the greatest bulk of the cheese body.
Lactase cause the breakdown of lactose and also contribute to flavour and aroma.

Enzymes are vital to the body and flavour changes in the milk and in the ripening or maturing cheese. They are produced inside of bacteria and, whilst some are released when a bacterium is still functioning, most are released on it's death, throughout cheese-making and maturing..

Bacterial, and therefore Enzyme, actions, or non-action, are controlled by acidity, temperature and available moisture.

It's the enzymes that cause the breakdown of a "wet acid" cheese like Camembert into a soft, putrefying mess within two to three months.
It's the enzymes that cause the transformation of a lumpy, low acid, curd into smooth "dry" Cheddar in nine months.
It's the enzymes that help produce good flavours and to produce poor flavours.

So, although the milk will supply the initial ingredients for flavour, it is you the cheese-maker that will control the actual flora and flavour production. Not that you will do this consciously at first.

The controls for enzyme action in maturing cheese are temperature and moisture.

The higher the humidity of your maturing room the more moisture will be retained by your cheese. The more moisture retained by your cheese the more rapid will be the breakdown.
The higher the temperature the faster the breakdown.
The lower the cheese acidity the faster the breakdown. (This has to be qualified, later).

Fast breakdown may be desirable in some cheese and these are stored at high humidity in order to retain the moisture content throughout maturing.
Other, dry-rind, cheese would be kept at a relatively lower humidity so as to discourage surface breakdown due to mold, bacterial and enzyme action, and to ensure that flavour reactions take place at a rate suitable for that cheese.
The bandage on traditional Cheddar is part of a carefully controlled moisture loss system.

I use the word "traditional" in its true sense, not, as it is used nowadays, to elevate the marketing image of a factory cylindrical cheese above that of a factory block cheese.


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