Family 1. Acid-coagulated Fresh Cheese

In North America, 'fresh cheese' normally refers to cheese produced by acid coagulation at 30 - 32°C with little or no added rennet. Acid is normally produced via fermentation by lactic cultures but some fresh cheese may also be produced by direct acidification with glucono-delta-lactone. Cheese made for fresh consumption is also made via rennet coagulation (Family 2) and a procedure known as heat-acid precipitation (Family 3).

Varieties: Cottage, Quark and Cream

Coagulation: The distinguishing characteristic of these varieties is that coagulation is achieved by acidification to pH 4.6 - 4.8, with little or no coagulating enzyme. Acidification is normally by lactic acid producing cultures. Most other American and European cheese varieties also use lactic acid producing cultures, but gelation is induced by a coagulating enzyme at pH 6.5 - 6.7, before much acid development has taken place.

pH Control: After cutting at pH 4.6 - 4.8, the curd is cooked to 52°C which is sufficient to inactivate the culture and prevent further acid development. Acidity is also reduced by washing the curd before salting.

Moisture Control: Curd moisture is reduced by syneresis during cooking but remains high, 60 - 70%, in the finished cheese.

Curing: Fresh cheese as the name implies is consumed fresh and has a shelf life of only 2 - 3 weeks.