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Part 2 - Microorganisms
Cheese is usually a fermented product. The reason for this is that it allows it to be kept for longer and to impart more flavours to the original ingredients.
To allow a safe fermentation, you need:
Lactic acid bacteria is necessary, but other bacteria can also be added. They will consume the sugars and create lactic acid, which will make the cheese more sour. This makes it harder for other microorganisms to grow, and will keep the cheese safe to consume for a longer time, while having a great taste.
Bacteria eats the sugars in the plant ingredients, but sometimes adding more table sugar or dextrose will allow your cheese to ferment even further, giving more flavour.
Bacteria cultures are added to the beginning of the cheese making in order to make it safe to consume. Some bacteria, like mesophilic cultures, prefer a room temperature to multiply. Others, like our cheese starter (thermophilic cultures) prefer warmer temperatures (between 30ºC and 40ºC) to grow and will create more lactic acid.
Cheeses are allowed to ferment at those temperature for up to 24h until the right amount of lactic acid is created.
Moulds and Yeasts
They consume the sugars and byproducts of the bacteria. They impart flavours by creating enzymes that will change the components of the plant ingredient even further.
A camembert contains a white mould that covers the cheese. That mould is called Penicilium candidum. For a blue cheese, the Penicilium roqueforti is used. Both moulds gives the cheese the characteristic flavour.
There are many types of moulds and yeast, also variations among them, like stronger and milder versions.
There are some cheese yeasts that can be added, but natural yeasts will grow onto the cheese while fermenting.
The plant milk needs to become solid to be further shaped and to develop a nice texture, allowing it to dry. That process is called curdling.
Lactic acid can curdle some plant milks rich in protein, like soy milk. But it might not be enough to curdle a cashew milk for example.
That's why our recipes call for an ingredient called Vzyme (Transglutaminase). This is a microbial sourced enzyme that will change the proteins in the plant milk to create a firm texture, just like rennet does in animal milk.
Also, the good microorganisms are usually tolerant to salt. That's why many fermented foods are salty.
You need to add enough salt to your cheeses, not only to make it to taste good, but also to promote the microorganisms that are safe to be consumed.