How we make Monterey Jack Cheese
It all starts with happy cows…
Our cows are milked twice a day, at 5:00 am and 4:00 pm. Right after morning milking, fresh milk is loaded onto our transport tank and driven 1/2 mile down the road to the creamery!
David Baker has been the head cheesemaker at State of Maine Cheese Company for 23 years and we are SO lucky to continue to have him on board after moving to Waldo!
The first step in our cheesemaking process is pasteurizing the milk. All of our milk is gently batch pasteurized, meaning it enters the cheese vat and is warmed to 145 degrees and held there for 30 minutes to eliminate any unwanted bacteria but allow good enzymes to stay intact.
After cooling the milk back down, starter culture is added to begin the process of developing acid and later enzymes are added to make the milk form into a curd.
After the milk has turned into a semi-solid aka a curd, we use wire knives to cut the curd. This begins the process of releasing whey, resulting in curds and whey (the curds are the solids and the whey is the liquid).
The curds and whey are heated, a process called cooking the curd. Then are allowed to rest.
After draining off some of the whey, we add cool water back into the curds and remaining whey, this is called washing the curd. This process results in milder flavored cheese.
After the curds and whey have been sufficiently cooled most of the remaining whey and water is drained from the curd.
Salt is added. Herbs and/or spices may also be added at this point.
The curd is transferred to a cheesecloth lined form which will give the final cheese it’s shape.
The cheese is pressed overnight in the forms to firm the cheese and remove any remaining whey.
Finally, the next day the cheese is removed from the form, sealed in plastic, and moved to the cooler to age. After the appropriate amount of time has passed. The blocks will be cut into retail size, repackaged and made available for sale.
(G. N. Brown Photo and Arthur Zachai have graciously permitted our use of their images documenting the making of our cheese.)