Making cheese

Weydeland cheese is made the traditional way by cheese makers in the ‘Beemster’ polder. With superb skills and deep passion, each cheese is given the attention needed.

The most important component of cheese is milk, but before the milk can be turned into a delicious piece of cheese, it has to go through various steps.

Gathering fresh raw cow milk

Fresh milk of the day is brought with ‘green’ transportation from every farm to the cheese farm, where the milk is prepared for the cheese making process.  More about green transportation here.

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Pasteurizing the milk

The bacteria in the milk greatly influence the taste and quality of the cheese. Hygiene is very important. Because of this the milk used in the Weydeland cheese is pasteurized. Pasteurizing means that the raw milk is heated to ±73 C° for a very short period, in order to preserver the milk taste and quality. Heating the milk kills all the harmful bacteria that could cause deterioration or off-flavours.

Adding the rennet and starter culture

After pasteurizing the milk, starter culture and rennet is added. The starter culture, being acid, will turn the lactose and milk sugars into milk acids, which helps to curd the milk.  The rennet is added to help solids in the milk, the proteins and milk fat, to curdle. A thick standing curd is the result. After the curd has been ‘standing’ for a while, the curd is cut with sharp knives. This process results in the cheese curds to be separated from the fluids, commonly known as whey. The whey is turned into whey powder. Whey powder is a valuable source of proteins and is used as a food ingredient.

The cutting of the curd

After the curd has been cut, the curd is hand stirred in a large draining tank. The stirring is important to ensure the curd will not stick together. This is critical, as the curds need to loose more of the fluids and the milk sugars in the process of stirring. A uniform product ensures a good quality cheese. After stirring the curds, the whey is drained, leaving a nice solid curd layer. The curd is slightly pressed and put in equal amounts in molds.

Each cheese gets a ‘cheese ID mark’, which will identify the date of production and is used for traceability.  This number guarantees the consumer the authenticity and quality of the cheeses.

Pressing

After the molds have been filled, the curds are pressed together in the round molds. This creates the well-known rounds of cheese. After pressing, the cheeses are taken out of the molds to rest for a short while before the next step in the process.

Brine bath

The cheeses are moved into a brine bath. This is water with a high percentage of salt. By the process of osmosis, the cheeses will absorb a very little amount of salt and loose more moisture. This is a very good preservation method, which has been used for ages. The brine helps prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria in the cheese.

Natural maturing

After the cheeses has spent time in the brine bath, the ripening or maturing process starts. The cheese is put on wooden shelves in an environment of consistent temperature and humidity. In the optimized conditions the cheese will start its maturing phase. We call this natural maturing, as the process is not aided by any additive or enzyme as with many processed cheeses. Natural ripening is just what it is: nature is free to run its course.