Those cheese makers who make rindless Cheddar have the
luxury of knowing if a cheese is going to be in compliance immediately
the analysis is complete.
Cheese makers who manufacture brine salted cheese and cheese that requires
additional aging are not so fortunate.
Changes that occur in cheeses which are brined and aged and allowed to
develop a rind are not always easy to project. It is interesting to take
a look at how the composition changes and to note something that is often
Yield on aged cheeses, when do you calculate the yield, it is surely
not the weight that you place into the brine, it is not the weight of
cheese you place on the racks or shelves. Only from developing a good
history of your cheese can you estimate the shrinkage and project how
many pounds of cheese you will have to sell.
These (see figure 1) are a selection of numbers assembled from many years
of recorded data, cheese that did not fit within an acceptable range
of the 1. Day numbers would be watched closely and tagged where necessary
to ensure that they did not deviate too far in flavor and body. Early
identification of potential defects saved a great deal of money. I have
not included pH as one of the one-day variables as I wanted to focus
in on the composition changes.
The components listed are not a 100 percent listing; however the only
two components, which are changing significantly, are the Moisture
and the Salt. Moisture leaves and salt is taken up. Salt is taken
up during the salting process and displaces moisture. Then like each
of the other components it will change according to the changes in
moisture, which typically will continue to decrease as the cheese
The mature (see figure 2) Feta was a four month old product aged in brine,
the Danbo was a five month product placed in Cryovac at five weeks and
the Romano was air dried for 15 months.
Observing the changes in each cheese the Danbo did not lose much moisture
as it was aged in a high moisture environment to promote the smear, it
was relatively low in salt so shows the least overall change. The FDB
is relatively unchanged.
The Feta was placed in a brine until time of sale and would have come
close to an equilibrium throughout the cheese.
The Romano was air dried and while the analysis shows only a modest amount
of salt much of it appeared to get trapped at the surface, this part
was not eaten so almost not considered part of the cheese. Because most
of it was grated it was not wasted when sold as cuts it (the rind) would
not be consumed.
It is also important to note in the examples provided above, the Feta
data are taken from samples that include the whole cheese; nothing was
removed as part of the rind. For the Danbo, a smear ripened cheese, and
the Romano, an air-dried cheese a portion of the sample plug was removed
and remaining part of the plug analyzed. As a result of this practice
the moisture on both the Romano and the Danbo should in fact read a little
When aging cheese on shelves and having them air dried for the entire
process they age quickly at the outset and slow as time passes. The Feta
which was brine salted still showed a moisture loss and salt increase.
Think about how different the chemistry of a cheese like Romano is if
the final composition is achieved in a very short time. Traditional cheese
makers have a wonderful opportunity to produce cheese with the most authentic
flavor and character the most natural way.
Neville McNaughton, president of Cheez Sorce, St. Louis, MO, has
many years of experience manufacturing dairy products in both New Zealand
and US. He has been a judge at several cheese competitions. Neville
will be writing a regular column in Cheese Reporter and will take any
questions regarding cheese manufacture. You can reach him at CheezSorce@sbcglobal.net. jumhoefer@wischeesemakersassn.