Cheese Making Process
Each cheese requires different conditions for its ripening/maturation.
Every step in each recipe that differs from the next, offers an opportunity for a unique cheese. This is what makes cheese exciting! All the variations that are possible. It’s limitless. 

The process begins by moving the milk into our cheese vat and then heating it until it reaches optimum temperature for adding cultures. The cultures help to acidify the milk and ready it for setting to make a firm curd. Then the milk is heated again and a coagulant is added. This is what makes the fabled curds and whey that Miss Muffet sat down to eat!
The curd is then cut into whatever size the recipe calls for. What happens after it forms into curds and whey determines what style of cheese it later becomes. Sometimes the curd and whey mixture is heated, sometimes it is just stirred. Depending upon Willow Hill Farm’s own original recipes, this mixture is then either hand-ladled/dipped out of the vat and pressed (or not) into special cheese forms, or moulds.                                                                                                                              
Did you know that the word ‘mold’ can describe not only the cheese form used as well as the molds that grow on a cheese rind?
The curds rest and drain in each mold (form) until they reach optimum acidity (pH) to un-mold and are either hand-salted or immersed in a brine solution.
At this point, the salt causes more moisture to leave the newly made cheeses and also aids in the formation of a rind. After this, each cheese variety goes into either a special curing room or into our underground cave.
Now begins the process of affinage. This is the method of aging or ‘curing’ a cheese. A centuries-old technique that utilizes either brushing, patting, washing or cleaning each rind and this is what creates different nuances in flavor, color, and even texture.                                                                                       
Cheese is a living organism and as such must be observed closely during this process to guide the ‘affineur’ (the person curing it) to give it what it needs: brushing, turning, washing and the like. Please note: this is an over-simplified description of the cheese making process.
                 Willow Hill Farm © 1998-2009