Family 4. Soft-Ripened Cheese

Varieties: Feta, Camembert, Brie, Blue

Coagulation: Coagulation is primarily rennet (enzymatic) with three important differences relative to cooked and pressed varieties (Families 5-7).

  1. The amount of lactic acid bacteria inoculum is large and the ripening period before renneting is extended. The result is that acidification has considerable influence on the development of curd structure during setting and demineralization of the curd is decreased.
  2. Cutting is delayed (i.e., setting time increased) to further encourage acidification and demineralization before cutting.
  3. Cutting is accomplished with large knives or just broken up with paddles to minimize moisture and fines losses before filling the forms.

pH Control: The distinguishing feature of these cheese is that the curd is placed in the forms while still sweet and let stand in a warm room for several hours. Acidification (i.e. conversion of lactose to lactic acid) continues until the accumulation of lactic acid inhibits culture growth. Acid development is also influenced by the time and amount of salting. The pH is normally about 4.4 - 4.6 on the day following manufacture and in the case of Feta remains low during curing, The pH of mould ripened varieties increases during curing (i.e., acidity decreases), especially Camembert and traditional Brie.

Note that most current versions of Brie use mild acid producing culture system to produce a sweeter Brie (lowest pH during early ripening is 5.0 - 5.2). This product ripens more slowly than conventional Brie and has a much greater shelf. 

Moisture Control: Syneresis is induced by acid development after forming and by brine salting. Moisture content is typically 45 - 60%.

Curing Time: 2 - 8 weeks.