Inoculation and Milk Ripening
The basis of cheesemaking relies on the fermentation of lactose by lactic acid bacteria (LAB). LAB produce lactic acid which lowers the pH and in turn assists coagulation, promotes syneresis, helps prevent spoilage and pathogenic bacteria from growing, contributes to cheese texture, flavour and keeping quality. LAB also produce growth factors which encourages the growth of non-starter organisms, and provides lipases and proteases necessary for flavour development during curing. Further information on LAB and starter cultures can be found in the microbiology section.
After innoculation with the starter culture, the milk is held for 45 to 60 min at 25 to 30° C to ensure the bacteria are active, growing and have developed acidity. This stage is called ripening the milk and is done prior to renneting.