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When choosing milk for cheesemaking, it helps to have a basic knowledge of the fundamental makeup of milk and the variations in milk from different animals.
Components of Milk
Milk is made up of four main components:
1. Water is the main ingredient in milk. The cheesemaker’s goal is to remove a very large portion of the water content from the milk to make cheese. The water content of a finished cheese is the main factor in the shelf life or aging period of that cheese.
2. Lactose is a type of sugar found exclusively in milk and is transformed by the cultures you add during the cheesemaking process into lactic acids and carbon dioxide.
3. Lipids (or butterfat) are fat globules and small proteins in the milk, which contribute to the opaque white color in milk. Sometimes, vitamin-rich lipids will contain carotene, which will cause the milk to look slightly yellow or orange. The actual level of butterfat in milk depends on the type of milk and the source animal’s breed, weight, and diet. Milk fat is extremely important in the cheesemaking process, as the triglycerides contain 98% of the overall milk fat, and they will be broken down to free some of those fatty acid compounds which help cheese develop to its full flavor potential.
4. Proteins in milk consist of whey protein and casein, or milk proteins. The most important factor of this duo is the caseins, which will bind together to play a main role in the solidification of the milk during the cheesemaking process. Whey proteins are contained in the yellow, watery whey.
Milk from Different Animals
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