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Making Cheese the Traditional Way, Part 1


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I’m Doug Johnson with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

The ancient way to store milk for long periods of time is to make it into cheese.

Industrial methods create huge amounts of dairy products used by a large and growing population.  But many people still enjoy foods made in traditional ways.  And a growing number of people are using and sharing traditional ways to make foods like cheese.

Jonathan White and his wife, Nina, teach about, make and sell cheese made in traditional ways.  They own Bobolink Dairy in the state of New Jersey.

The Whites raise cows fed on grass.  This is already different from industrial production, where milk cows are fed grain.

Mr. White is not interested in selling fresh milk.  He says he gets more money making his milk into cheese.  He sells his products for about forty-four dollars per kilogram.

Most mornings, Mr. White and his assistants move the cows from fields to a large shelter, or barn.  The cows are milked by machine, with a device that attaches to their udders.  The milk travels through a pipe to a large container, or vat, that holds the milk for cheese making.

The vat is made of stainless steel.  It has a motorized arm that moves in a circle, which mixes the milk.  The vat is temperature-controlled.  Mr. White usually keeps the milk at about thirty-two degrees Celsius.

The cheese making process begins as soon as the milk leaves the cows and enters the vat.  Bacteria in the milk start to change the milk sugars into lactic acid through the process of fermentation.  The acid suppresses harmful bacteria.

To help the process, a small amount of milk product from yesterday’s cheese making is put into today’s fermenting milk.

Mr. White estimates that there are about fifteen important organisms -- bacteria, molds and yeasts -- that ferment his milk.  That combination makes the taste of the cheese one-of-a-kind.  The combination of the kinds of cows used and the grasses they eat would have to be copied exactly.

Cheese could be made by the fermentation process alone.  But most cheese needs something else to make it solid before it is pressed into its well-known forms.

The story of how cheese changes from a fermenting liquid to a solid is our subject next week.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter.  Internet users can read and hear this report at voaspecialenglish.com.  I'm Doug Johnson.

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Correction: Jonathan White says that while about fifteen organisms help form the skin of  his cheese, about one hundred organisms ferment the cheese itself.


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Source: Making Cheese the Traditional Way
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