The Science and Art of Cheese Making

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: 10:30 AM
3501B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Kerry E Kaylegian , Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Abstract Text:

Without a doubt, the interest in cheese is growing. From a total volume perspective, the increase in the use of cheese in food service and fast food is good for the dairy industry. However, the more interesting story is the explosive growth in specialty and artisanal cheeses. The American public is becoming more focused on connecting with the manufacturers of their foods. This is illustrated by the increase in popularity of local farmers' markets and the Buy Fresh Buy Local organization that now has chapters in 24 states. Consumers are adventurous and always looking for new flavors, shapes, and varieties of cheese.

The dairy industry is quite responsive to this opportunity, seeing these value-added products as a way to stay viable in an industry that is relatively saturated in the fluid milk market. Artisanal cheeses are produced on levels from large, multi-plant operations to one-person farmstead operations making cheese only using their farm's milk. Artisanal cheeses are marketed in many different outlets. Some cheesemakers choose to sell more common types of cheese like plain and flavored varieties of Cheddar, colby, jack for their local markets, whereas others choose to make unique cheeses destined for the restaurants or high-end cheese shops. There are legal constraints of Standards of Identity and raw milk cheese aging requirements that must be followed. Beyond these, the world of cheese offers a empty canvas for the creativity of the cheesemaker. Cheese makers have an amazing palette of bacteria, yeasts and molds to choose from to develop unique cheeses that complement their milk, the seasons, their geographical location, their values, and their passions. Milk from cow, goats, sheep and water buffalo are used to make cheese, further expanding the varieties of cheese that can be created. Understanding how to combine these variables to make a high quality, consistent cheese requires an understanding of the science behind the cheesemaking process. The growth in cheese varieties is measured by the number of entries in cheese competitions. The first American Cheese Society Competition in 1985 had 89 cheeses in 7 categories, in 2003 there were 762 cheeses, and in 2013 there were over 1700 cheeses entered in about 80 categories. The interest in cheese is definitely growing.

Keywords: artisan cheese, value-added