Monday, 9 May 2011

Highland Folk Museum - 7

Here we see the dairy in the Aultlarie Farm Steading. Although this is no longer a working dairy, it was once used for butter making and cheese making.

Cheesemaking capitalises on the curdling of milk. First, the milk is carefully selected to make sure there are no antibiotics or harmful agents that could affect the process. The milk is then heated and held at a given temperature for a short period to destroy any harmful bacteria (i.e. pasteurisation). Special starter cultures are then added to the warm milk and change a very small amount of the milk sugar into lactic acid. This acidifies the milk at a much faster rate and prepares it for the next stage. Rennet (mainly chymosin) is then added to the milk and within a short time a curd is produced. Pepsin is not normally used in Britain except for certain specialised cheeses. The resultant curd is then cut into small cubes, and heat is applied to start a shrinking process which, with the steady production of lactic acid from the starter cultures, will change it into small rice-sized grains. At a carefully chosen point the curd grains are allowed to fall to the bottom of the cheese vat, the left-over liquid, which consists of water, milk sugar and albumen (now called whey) is drained off and the curd grains allowed to mat together to form large slabs of curd. The slabs are then milled, and salt is added to provide flavour and help preserve the cheese. Later, it is pressed, and subsequently packed in various sized containers for maturing.

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