Acidcoagulated cheeses

In the United States, the most popular of the acid-precipitated cheeses are Cottage cheese and cream cheese. And although per capita consumption of Cottage cheese (all varieties) has declined in the past twenty years by nearly 30% (despite modest increases in low-fat versions), cream cheese per capita consumption has increased by more than 100% (from less than 0.5 Kg to more than 1 Kg per person per year). This increase in cream cheese consumption is undoubtedly due to an equal increase in the popularity of bagels and cheesecakes. The availability of flavored, whipped, and low- and reduced- fat cream cheese products has also contributed to this increase. Other cheeses in this category, including bakers' cheese and farmers' cheese, have only a small share of the market.

These cheeses rely on the fermentation of lactose to lactic acid by a suitable starter culture, such that a pH of 4.6 or below is reached. In Cottage cheese manufacture, the starting material is simply skim milk. Often, nonfat dry milk is added to increase the throughput, or the amount of cheese produced per vat, and to improve body. The milk is always pasteurized, as required by law, since this is a fresh or non-aged product. A mesophilic lactic starter culture, containing strains of Lactococcus, is then added at a rate or amount that depends on the production schedule preferences of the manufacturer. For a fast make, as much as a 5% culture inoculum is added (that is, 5% of the total milk volume, by weight, is culture). The inoculated milk is mixed, then allowed to incubate quiescently in the vat at 30°C to 32°C, the optimum temperature for the culture.At this inoculum level and at this temperature, an active culture can coagulate the milk in five hours or less.

Table 5.1. Properties of major cheese groups.

Cheese

Starter Culture

Other organisms

Salt

Moisture

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