Eleven Stages to Making Cheese: to pasteurise or not to pasteurise

Over the next few days we are going to be writing about the eleven stages to cheese making and describing how we make our cheese.

First off, we are going to talk about pasteurising.

To pasteurise or not to pasteurise

Our little pasteuriser

Our little pasteuriser

To begin, (subject to EHO approval) there is a choice of making pasteurised cheese or unpasteurised cheese.  There are two ways of pasteurising.  We use the HTST method which is high temperature short time where we pass milk through a series of heat exchangers in our little pasteuriser: milk is heated to 72oC for 15 seconds.  This reduces the number of pathogens to safer levels.

I don’t actually know if it is a legal requirement to have our pasteuriser serviced each year, but we do.  Each October, someone from Halifax based Harry Travis comes to see us and services our little pasteuriser and sends us a certificate to say that it has been tested and calibrated.  We give the chaps at Harry Travis plenty of notice so they can tie a visit to us with a visit to the area, making it cheaper for us.

The second method of pasteurisation is called batch pasteurisation which involves heating milk to 63oC and holding it at this temperature for between 20 – 30 minutes. We do not do this as we do not have the ability to raise  the temperature of liquids to 63oC – it would take for ever to batch pasteurise in our vats, which personally I do not feel is a safe way of pasteurising for us.  If you had steam, then this is a viable alternative, but we do not…yet.

Here at Ribblesdale Cheese, we also make unpasteurised cheese which involves a high degree of segregation to avoid cross contamination of unpasteurised milk with pasteurised products.  To do this, we have special approval from our Environmental Health Officer and this is incorporated into our manufacturing approval.  To do this, we had to prepare a set of HACCPs for the whole process of making unpasteurised cheese which shows the critical control points and how we control any potential cross contamination.

Some foodies say that unpasteurised cheese is nicer and has more flavour as the pasteurisation process may destroy ‘flavour enzymes’.  We will let you decide as we make both!

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