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How is Cheddar made?

Keens Extra Mature Cheddar cheese
Keens Extra Mature Cheddar

The cheese making process

  1. The Cheesemaker prepares the starter culture by adding an inoculum of bacteria to a churn of sterile raw milk. This is left to ripen for 18 hours, then poured into the vat

  2. The coagulated milk separates into curds and whey. The curd is then cut vertically, then horizontally producing sugar cube size curds

  3. The temperature is gradually raised (known as scalding the curd) forcing it to release trapped whey. Once the desired acidity level is reached, the whey is drained off with the curd being stirred manually to stop it from sticking together

  4. The curd and any remaining whey is transferred to a draining table

  5. The rest of the whey must be gently squeezed out by hand until the curd settles into a solid mass

  6. The mass of curds must be cut into brick sized blocks, turned by hand and piled two blocks high. This process is repeated every 20 minutes increasing the number of bricks in the pile each time to force out as much whey as possible

  7. The bricks flatten the more whey is released, they are deemed ready when dry, firm and ready to be pulled apart

  8. The thin bricks are then milled to finger sized pieces and pitched by hand with forks to aerate and cool the curd while the salt is mixed in and absorbed

  9. Dry curds are scooped by hand into large stainless steel moulds lined with cheesecloth. The cloth is folded over the top and the mould is placed end to end in a horizontal press. Even pressure is applied over 12-16 hours forcing out any residual whey

  10. The following day the cheese must be turned and banged out of its mould, the cloth removed, then re-clothed and placed back into the mould for pressing for a further day

  11. Cheeses are unmoulded, with any sharp or uneven edges being removed. Pristine cheeses are wrapped in clean cloths; then sealed with lard or a water and flour paste and marked with a date. Cheeses are then placed in a temperature controlled environment to mature

  12. During the first few months the Cheddars are tuned regularly to move the moisture evenly through the curd. The natural moulds on the cloth form a barrier against unwanted bacteria and allow the cheese to mature until the cheesemaker decides that they have reached their peak and are ready for sale


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