How Cheese Is Made

Cheesemaking is both an art and a science. While the basic steps are similar for most types of cheeses, many factors determine the final product, including milk type and quality, environment, particular recipe, and decision-making on the part of the individual cheesemaker.


Below are the basic steps common to all cheesemaking:


  • Starter cultures are added to the milk to begin acidification or “souring.”

  • Rennet is added to curdle the milk and creates solids, or curds, which have the consistency of custard.


  • The curds are cut with knives called harps. The cutting of the curds releases a liquid called whey.


  • The whey is drained, the extent to which depends on the consistency of the cheese. The harder the finished cheese, the more whey is drained from the curds.


  • The curds are placed into molds and drained further. To make hard cheese, the curds are pressed under weights to maximize the amount of whey that is slowly pressed out.


  • Note that fresh cheese is not pressed or aged, and is ready to eat within a few hours or days.