The milk is delivered twice a day without cooling. It usually reaches the factory at a temperature of 92° to 96° F. It is strained into the kettle, and starter and rennet added at the same temperature as received. Enough rennet should be used to give a coagulation ready for cutting in twenty to thirty minutes.
The firmness of the curd is tested by inserting the index
finger in an oblique position, then raising it slightly and
with the thumb of the same hand starting the curd to
break or crack. When the curd is coagulated ready for
cutting, it will give a clear break over the finger.
It is important to keep the temperature uniform while
coagulation is in process, and this is best accomplished
by the use of a little pan arrangement which fits into
the top of the kettle. When this is full of water at 100°
F., the temperature of the air above the milk will be about
90° F. When the curd is ready for cutting, a scoop
may be used and the top layer carefully turned under to
equalize the temperature more closely.
Cutting the curd.—In some cheese factories, knives
resembling Cheddar cheese knives are employed to cut
the curd. In other factories, a "Swiss harp" is used
to break the curd. The curd is usually cut or broken into pieces about the size of kernels of corn. The
practice of "breaking" curd instead of cutting it with
sharp curd-knives produces excessive loss at times.
Experimental study has shown that the loss of fat
may be kept as low as 0.3 per cent if modern curd-knives
are substituted for the breaking tool formerly
used. Study of Swiss cheeses of all grades supports
the opinion that the removal of a small part of fat
from usual grades of factory milk produces a better
quality of product than the use of rich whole milk. This
may be accomplished through the escape of fat in the whey
on account of breaking the curd and stirring it vigorously,
or by skimming a part of the milk which is then curdled,
cut and stirred under such conditions as to minimize
the loss of fat.
Cooking the curd.—After cutting, the curd is stirred
in the whey for about twenty minutes before the steam
is turned on and is then heated to 128° to 135° F. While
this heating is in progress, constant stirring must be
given to avoid matting. This excessive stirring breaks
the curd up into pieces about the size of wheat kernels,
and accounts for the large fat loss, which is one of the
main sources of loss in making Swiss cheese. This stirring
is accomplished by a rotary motion, and the use of
a brake, which is a piece of wood closely fitting the side
of the kettle. This creates an eddy in the current at that
point and gives a more uniform distribution of temperature.
The process of cooking takes from thirty to forty
minutes, and at the end of that time the degree of toughness
may be determined by making a roll of curd
in the hand, and noticing the break when it is given a
quick flip. A short sharp break indicates the desired
Draining and hooping.—In this process, the cheese-makers'
skill is displayed. With the hoop prepared, and
the curd at the correct stage of toughness, the operator
takes a press cloth, wets it in whey, slips it over a flexible
iron ring which can be made to fit the shape of the kettle,
gives the contents of the kettle a few swift revolutions,
then suddenly reverses the motion, with the result that
the contents form into a cone, and the ring and bandage
are dexterously slipped under this cone, and drawn up to
the surface of the whey with a rope or chain and pulley.
This part of the process is the most important, as a cheese
must have a smooth firm rind, else it will quickly crack.
With too large a batch of milk, the curd can be cut into
two pieces and hooped separately. With the mass of
curd at the top of the whey, the piece of perforated iron
plate just the size of the hoop is slipped under the mass,
and attached to the pulley by four chains. Then the
top of the mass is carefully leveled off, because while still
in the whey, it cannot mat badly and so tend to develop
a rind crack.
Now the mass is raised clear of the whey,
and run along a short track to the drain table, where it is
put in the press.
Pressing.—The mass of curd is dropped into the
hoop, the edges of the cloth carefully folded under,
and the cloth laid on top, then the pressure is applied,
gradually at first, but increasing until the final
pressure is about fifteen to twenty pounds to a pound
During the first few hours the cloths must be changed
frequently, and the cheese carefully turned over each
time, to secure a more uniform rind. After a time the
changes are less frequent, and at the end of twenty-four
hours the cheese is taken to the salting-room.
Salting may be done by either the brine or dry method.
To prepare a brine bath, add salt to a tank of water
until it will float an egg, and add a pailful or more of salt
every few days thereafter to keep up the strength. The
cheese is then placed in this bath and left for three to five
days, depending on the saltiness desired. As the cheese
floats with a little of the rind above the surface, it should
be turned a few times to insure uniformity of salting.
With dry salting, the salt is rubbed on the cheese by hand
or with a stiff brush, and any excess carefully wiped off,
leaving only a slight sprinkle on the surface to work into
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