Family 2. Rennet-coagulated Fresh Cheese

In Latin American, Middle Eastern and some European countries, fresh rennet cheese is produced with little or no culture. Without acid production by lactic acid bacteria, cheese pH remains high and the resulting cheese does not melt when used in a stir fry or other cooked recipes. For reasons of safety and quality, these varieties must be handled with extra attention to sanitation and refrigeration.

Varieties: Queso Blanco, Queso Fresco, Italian fresh cheese, Halloumi

Coagulation: The distinguishing characteristic of rennet coagulated fresh cheese is that little or no culture is used. Coagulation is, therefore, entirely by rennet at the natural pH of milk.

pH Control: The pH is determined by the amount of culture. If no culture is used, the pH remains in the range of 6.5-6.7. In some Queso Blanco varieties a small amount of culture is used to reduce the pH to about 5.8 which reduces the growth of both spoilage (increases shelf life) and pathogenic (increases food safety) microorganisms. Further acidification is inhibited by cooling and salting. Too much acidification below pH<5.8 will produce a meltable cheese which is unsuitable for frying.

Moisture Control: Curd moisture may be reduced by syneresis during cooking and limited acidification, but is still 50 - 70% in the finished cheese. Some varieties exhibit syneresis after packaging.

Curing: Consumed fresh and has a shelf life of only 2 - 4 weeks.