As a dairy producer in Kenya, you can add extra value to your milk by processing and marketing your own products, such as cheeses, bottled milk, yogurt, ice cream or butter. In this article, I will explore how you can make cheese and earn extra profit from your dairy business.
Cheese is the solid part of milk, also known as curd, obtained by separating it from the liquid part (known as whey) by a chemical reaction. Curds are separated from the whey by adding an acid, bacteria culture and/or starter (rennet). Cheese can be described according to its texture as hard, semi-hard or soft or it can be described according to extent of maturing as fresh or ripened.
How to make cheese
There are several recipes to making cheese. Here one of them.
To make cheese you need:
- Good quality milk:
- with a low bacteria content
- from healthy cows: do not use milk from cows with mastitis or other diseases
- milk which does not contain antibiotics
- do not use colostrum
- Clean equipment:
- make sure you clean and sterilize your milking utensils
- rinse you utensils thoroughly in clean water.
To make cheese follow these steps:
- Use fresh whole milk. Reduce the fat content by allowing the milk to stand for about one hour, and then skim off the top layer.
- Heat the milk to about 85degC to destroy most of the bacteria present and also to increase yield through the precipitation of the whey protein.
- Dilute lemon juice with an equal quantity of clean water so that the lemon can be distributed uniformly. Add about 30 ml (about 3 tablespoons) of lemon juice per litre of milk. Stir the milk while carefully adding the lemon juice. The curd precipitates almost immediately.
- Continue stirring for about three minutes after adding the lemon juice.
- Allow the curd to settle for 15 minutes. Separate the curds from the whey by draining through a sieve or a cloth (use a cotton cloth folded twice).
- While draining the whey, stir the curd to prevent excess matting (coagulation).
- Add salt to the curd at the rate of about 4 g (about a level tea spoon) per 100ml of curd and mix thoroughly. The amount of salt may be varied to cater for different consumer tastes and preferences.
- Transfer the curd to a mould lined with cheese cloth. The mould may be cylindrical or square shaped and may be made from metal, plastic or wood.
- Cover the curd by folding over the cheese cloth. Fit a clean wooden board, cut to neatly inside the mould, to enable the curd to be pressed.
- Press the curd overnight using metal weights placed on top of the wooden shape. Press with twice the weight of the cheese (so, for every 1 kg cheese use 2 kg press). Press for 1 to 2 hours then take the cheese out of the mould.
- Store the cheese as it is or cut it into suitably sized pieces for sale.
- Coat the cheese with a thin film of butter to enhance the appearance.
- Ripen the cheese on clean wooden shelves for at least 4 weeks at a temperature of 12 to 16degC. During the ripening take the cheese off the shelves every three days, put vinegar on a cloth and wipe the cheese. This prevents fungi. The longer you ripen the cheese the stronger the flavour.
FERMENTED CHEESE (MALA)
This is milk that has undergone the fermentation process due to introduction of a specific bacterium either from a commercial culture or from by adding a small amount from a previous batch of fermented milk. The process described below is based on a traditional process.
How to make mala
- Use good quality milk, i.e. free from antibiotics and preservatives, not adulterated.
- If making sweetened cultured milk, add sugar at the rate of 20 to 25 kg per 500 litres (40 to 50 g per 1 litre).
- Heat the milk to 92 to 95degC for 3 to 5 minutes or 85degC for 30 minutes or just bring to the boil.
- Cool to 22 to 25degC (warm room temperature).
- Inoculate with a commercial fermented milk culture or mix with a small amount of fermented milk.
- Incubate at 22 – 25degC (warm room temperate) for 16 to 18 hours.
- Cool to 20degC (just cool to the touch) in 30 minutes.
- In case of flavoured cultured milk, add flavour and colour.
- Stir until smooth.
- Pack at 20degC.
- Refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours to help recover thickness lost during stirring.
- Distribute for consumption and/or sale.