May 16 2019

Maturing and care of cheeses

The process of ripening is perhaps the most important part of the process, artistic cheese making when the magic is obtained, that is, the character of the milk and the unique aroma derived from the pasha. The maturation of the cheese varies from day to day, depending on the pasha, the season, the conditions in the room where the cheese is kept, the skill of the worker who makes the cheese, so that, unlike wine, cheese has harvest every day that makes it so exceptional and beautiful . The natural indigenous microflora in cheese actually builds the uniqueness and specificity of the taste and smell of individual cheeses where the nuances of flavors that reflect the territory where they are produced are defined. Most masters in the production of traditional cheeses use raw milk in order to produce unique products that reflect the territory in which they are produced, the climate, the race, the soil and the specific technology.


Ripening is done in special rooms with strictly controlled temperature (12ºC-14ºC) and humidity (80-90%). During ripening, there are changes caused by enzymes of microorganisms, milk enzymes, and lab men. These changes take place by decomposing lactose, proteins and fats, creating compounds that give cheese a typical smell, taste and appearance. In Granada Padano cheese, the minimum ripening of 12 months is determined by law, while in other cheeses only a few days. At that moment, cheese is ready to be put on the market and consumed.
While ripening is mandatory because it enters the production techniques set out in the Cheetah Rulebooks with a designation of protected origin, care is not mandatory.

During ripening at the same time, care begins and these two processes are mixed and become one whole. But care is an art, a technique commonly practiced by other people who are not producers and which takes place elsewhere, though quite close to the production territory.
The person making it chooses a place suitable for good cheese storage. It's about caves or chambers where humidity, temperature, air, silence and darkness should be in perfect balance. In this setting, the pies slowly breathe and ripen. At this stage, the mold and plant scents at the place of maturation, as well as the resin and other fragrances of the tree above which the pies are placed, contribute to the development of the aromatic palette. The microflora at the site is spontaneous, clean and multiplies in contact with the crust and the cheese mass of cheese, rounding the flavor, creating stains in white, gray, reddish on the face and back and on the side of the pies. When we smell the crust of the cheese, it should offer clean, vegetable scents. Inside the pies, the task of the flies and almonds is to decompose and transform proteins and break down fat molecules by creating new compounds, whether fixed or volatile, which are responsible for taste and aroma. Trees that are used for shelves are from pine, fir, apple, pear, cherry, beech, maple, clear, oak: their fresh and fruits are absorbed by fats. But the tree also has another very important task: it is a natural and lively vessel that becomes the substrate of the culture of spores of mold and algae. The trees and molds breathe together. But beware: the woods should be cleaned occasionally to avoid the appearance of less noble, harmful molds and to form deposits of fat and protein substances that will eventually decompose, polluting the outer ambient.In this ripening phase, the bulk mass slows the evaporation of the water until a common balance with the external environment is reached. An important element for ripening is the high degree of moisture in those places in order to keep the weir mass gentle, elastic and firm. However ripening takes place differently according to the type of cheese. In hard cheeses, this ripening process takes place from the inside to the outer surface, which is why it is necessary to occasionally wash the pies with salt water. The soft cheeses, on the contrary, ripen from the outer to the inner side, since they have a very active flora in the crust. In the moldy crust, the process is apparent and the white mold gets compact like a felt. For cheeses with washed crust, the surface is colored red or orange. For blue cheeses, for example Gorgonzola, ripening goes from the inside to the outside, as penicillin spores are added to the milk in the coagulation phase.

The man who is responsible for ripening knows when the pie has reached the maximum level of ripening and good taste and when it is finally ready to reach the consumer. Otherwise, an overly mature cheese will spread incompatible odors and aromas and will not have good sensory characteristics.