Selected Recipes

29 Firm to Hard Cheese: Low Temperature: Provolone, Cheddar

1. Provolone

Pasta Filata cheese varieties such as Mozzarella are made by kneading and stretching hot curd to produce desired fibrous structure and stretching properties. Mozzarella and pizza cheese types are intended for fresh or early consumption. Provolone types may be consumed young or aged. Provolone is traditionally suspended with ropes at 85% humidity for curing. The following procedure is for Provolone.

Standards

45% moisture; 24% fat (see, Table 6.1).

Milk

Milk standardized to PF = 1.2 will make a legal cheese according to Canadian standards. Too much fat is not desirable.

Procedure

  1. Pasteurize (72°C, 16 s or 62.5°C, 30 min).
  2. Add sufficient DVS mesophilic cultures to produce pH of 6.1 – 6.2 ready for draining after about 3 1/2 h. Normally, Lactococcus lactis and/or cremoris cultures are used. A thermophilic culture containing Lactobacillus helveticus may be added to improve flavour.
  3. Ripen for 1 h at 30 – 31°C or until acidity increases by 0.005 – 0.01%.
  4. While the milk is ripening: (1) add 20 mL of a solution of 30% CaCl2 per 100 Kg of milk; and (2) if desired, add 0.1 to 0.5 g of lipase per 100 Kg milk.
  5. Measure 5,000 IMCU of coagulant per 100 Kg milk. Dilute the coagulant in at least 200 mL of water per 100 L of milk. Ensure the milk temperature in the vat is stabilized at 30 – 31°C; then add the diluted rennet into the vat with the agitators running. Agitate for about two minutes and then remove the agitators. Setting should occur in 30 to 40 min.
  6. Cut curd into 0.5 cm pieces.
  7. Agitate gently but sufficient to keep the curd from settling and from matting for 10 min. Then cook according to the following schedule to a final temperature of 39°C in 30 min.
Cooking Time Temperature
Begin heating 30°C
5 min 30.5°C
10 min 31.0°C
15 min 32.5°C
20 min 35.0°C
25 min 37.0°C
30 min 39.0°C
  1. Hold at 39°C until pH is 6.1- 6.2 (about 75 min from the time the temperature reaches 39°C or 2 h from the time of cutting). If the acidity is increasing too quickly, the temperature may be raised slightly (maximum 40°C) to retard the culture.
  2. When curd pH is 6.0 – 6.1 (whey pH 6.2 – 6.3), remove the whey. After the bulk of the whey is removed, stir out the curd once to remove moisture.
  3. Form the curd into a continuous slab 12 – 20 cm (5 – 8″) deep and 45 cm (18″) wide along the sides of the vat. Trim the edges and put loose curd under the slab.
  4. After 10 min, cut the slab into blocks 20 – 30 cm (8 – 12″) wide and turn every 15 min until the pH is 5.4. Pile the blocks two high on the third turn.
  5. When cheese pH is 5.2 – 5.0 and curd strings in 75°C water, mill or cut the curd into strips about 1.0 – 2.0 cm wide and 10 – 15 cm long. Test the curd by dipping a small piece in hot water for 15 – 20 s or until the whole piece is heated to 55 – 60°C. Remove the curd from the water and stretch. When the curd is ready to ‘work’, it should stretch easily to 25 – 50 cm without breaking. Do not hurry to start working.
  6. Work the curd in a mechanical stretch machine. Or, if working and stretching is to be done by hand, cover the curd with its weight of hot (> 70°C) water. Fuse, knead, and stretch the curd until it looks and stretches like taffy. The internal temperature (greater than 50°C) and pH (5.3 – 5.0) must be right for this appearance. Work and roll the stretched curd into desired shapes. Beginners will not want to make the large styles at the first attempt. Learn to seal the ends of the curd first. Keep curd hot while working by dipping it in the hot water. When the curd is formed and sealed, drop it in cold water until chilled and hardened in shape. If the curd remains in the hot water too long, it will become difficult to stretch and mold.
  7. Immerse in 25% salt brine for periods estimated from the cheese weight and thickness as 1 h per 0.9 Kg per cm OR 1 h per pound per inch.
  8. Hang the cheese in the conventional smooth rope or plastic netting. The cheese may be lightly smoked in a cool room for 2 – 4 h. Alternatively, vacuum pack the cheese.

Process And Quality Control Notes

The pH at the time of draining is critical to the retention of calcium in the curd, and Ca is a principal determinant of curd strength. For a stronger curd, drain the whey at higher pH to retain more Ca.

Other Pasta Filata cheese such as Mozzarella and Pizza are close cousins of Provolone. Pasta Filata cheese intended for use on pizza or similar application should be aged for 10 – 12 days to improve melting properties. This effect is possibly due to proteolysis or perhaps due to equilibration reactions among casein and the Ca salts of phosphate and citrate.

2. Cheddar

Standards

39% moisture, 30% fat (see, Table 6.1).

Milk

Milk standardized to PF = 0.96 will make a legal cheese according to Canadian standards. Lower PF ratios down to 0.91 will make good quality Cheddar. Normally, depending on relative price of milk fat and protein. it is cost effective to standardize to the lowest PF consistent with good quality.

Procedure

  1. Pasteurize (72°C, 16 s or 62°C, 30 min).Note: most aged Cheddar is made from heat treated milk, meaning a sub-pasteurization heat treatment, typically in the range of 55 – 65°C for 15 – 16 s. In Canadian regulations, cheese made from heated but sub-pasteurized milk is considered raw milk cheese and must be “held at 2°C or more for a period of 60 days or more from the date of the beginning of the manufacturing process”[1]
  2. Add sufficient DVS mesophilic cultures to lower the pH to 6.2 – 6.1 (ready for draining in about 3 1/2 h. Normally Lactococcus lactis and/or cremoris cultures are used. Ripen for 1 h at 30 – 31°C or until acidity increases by 0.005 – 0.01%.
  3. While the milk is ripening: (1) add 20 mL of a solution of 30% CaCl2 per 100 Kg of milk; and (2) if colour is desired, add annatto based cheese colour according to preference and/or the manufacturer’s instructions. There is an industry convention that provides some consistency, such that generally 7 mL of “single-strength” colour is sufficient for 100Kg milk. Dilute the colour with about 150 mL of water per 100 Kg of milk and distribute over the vat with agitation.
  4. Measure 5,000 IMCU of coagulant per 100 Kg milk. Dilute the coagulant in at least 200 mL of water per 100 L of milk. Ensure the milk temperature in the vat is stabilized at 30 – 31°C; then add the diluted rennet into the vat with the agitators running. Agitate for about two minutes and then remove the agitators. Setting should occur in 30 – 40 min.
  5. When the curd breaks cleanly, cut into pieces of 0.5 cm. Agitate gently or as vigorous as required to prevent matting.
  6. Start cooking 15 min after cutting according to the following schedule.
Cooking Time Temperature
Begin heating 30°C
5 min 30.5°C
10 min 31.0°C
15 min 32.5°C
20 min 35.0°C
25 min 37.0°C
30 min 39.0°C
  1. Hold at 39°C until pH is 6.1 – 6.2 (about 75 min from the time the temperature reaches 39°C or 2 h from the time of cutting). If the acidity is increasing too quickly, the temperature may be raised slightly (maximum 40°C) to retard the culture.
  2. When curd pH is 6.0 – 6.1 (whey pH 6.2 – 6.3) remove the whey. After the bulk of the whey is removed, stir out the curd one, two or three times depending on desired cheese moisture content.
  3. Form the curd into a continuous slab 12 – 20 cm (5 – 8″) deep and 45 cm (18″) wide along the sides of the vat. Trim the edges and put loose curd under the slab. After about 10 min, trim the front edge and cut the curd into blocks about 25 cm (10″) wide. Turn the blocks every 15 min until the pH is 5.4 – 5.3 (about 2 h after draining). At the second turn, pile the blocks two high and then three high at the third turn.
    Cheese curds are stacked 2 to 3 blocks high on top of each other in the Cheddaring process
  4. Cut the blocks of curd into 10 -13 cm (4 – 5 inch) strips and pass the strips through the curd mill. Stir the cheese curds every 10 min or so until the cut edges become round and smooth (about 30 min after milling).
  5. Distribute the salt uniformly over the curd and mix well. The final salt content of the cheese should be about 1.7%. Calculate the required amount of salt as follows:

A. Estimate cheese yield as:

Yield\:=\:\frac{(0.93F\:+\:(0.78P\:-\:0.1)(1.09)}{1\:-\:M}

Where:

F = Fat content of milk

P = Protein content of milk

M = Target cheese moisture expressed as a fraction

Note: typical target moisture for Cheddar is 37%. If a dry cheese for aging is desired, the target moisture should be 35 – 36%.

B. The required amount of salt is 2.5% of the estimated yield. This value is higher than the final 1.7% content because considerable whey drainage occurs after salting.

  1. After the salt is well absorbed and the flow of whey has stopped, the curd is ready for hooping. Use 40 1b (18 Kg) or 20 lb (9 Kg) hoops and place 22 lb (9.9 Kg)  or 44 lb (20 Kg)of curd in each hoop. The hoops should be lined with plastic, single service press cloths.
  2. Press overnight at 140 – 200 kPa (20 – 30 lbs/in2). Start with low pressure and gradually increase to the desired maximum. In modern commercial practice, pressing is often shortened to as little as one hour. The pH after pressing should be 5.1 – 5.3.
  3. Vacuum treatment to remove air from the cheese and an increase in the rate of cooling may be applied during or after pressing. In modern commercial practice, pressing is often shortened to as little as one hour.
  4. Vacuum or gas flush pack the cheese blocks and store at 5 – 8°C for curing. Warmer temperatures (10 – 15°C) develop flavour more rapidly, but quality control is difficult. Raw milk cheese  by  law must be “held at 2°C or more for a period of 60 days or more from the date of the beginning of the manufacturing process”  (Canadian Food and Drug Act and Regulations Sections B.08.030 and B.08.042 to B.08.048).

Grading

Special samples for grading should be kept at 14.4 – 15.5°C for 2 days after the date of manufacture. These samples cured at high temperature give an indication of the probable quality of the aged cheese. If, in the judgement of the grader, the cheese is not sufficiently mature to properly assess its quality, the grading should be deferred until it has reached a suitable maturity. Other samples should be taken from the curing room at about 3 and 6 months during a 9 month curing period.


  1. (Canadian Food and Drug Act and Regulations Sections B.08.030 and B.08.042 to B.08.048)

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Cheese Making Technology e-Book by Arthur Hill and Mary Ann Ferrer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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