8 Facts About Cheese Makers

Parmesan, Gouda, Swiss, Havarti, these are just a few types of cheese in the long list of those available. Some cheese are made in industrial settings, mixed in large vats with thousands of liters of creams. Others are made in small shops, purely by hand using only the best ingredients.

Every cheese has a  story behind  it. Some stories are written by many while others by only a few. The individuals who write these stories are cheese makers by creating endless varieties of cheeses

Today Food Grads is giving you the facts about Cheese Makers and giving you the insight to know if this tasty career is for you!

  1. Cheese makers produce cheese!

Cheese makers are:

professionals who work to develop and create cheese and related cheese products. Typical tasks that cheese makers carry out in their daily jobs include ordering and purchasing milk, supervising the cheese making process by watching large vats of milk, performing quality tests like pH, wrapping/packaging cheeses and inspecting the aging process of cheese.

Cheese makers can be employed in large manufacturing factories where tons of cheese is produced. A lot of the cheese made at this large scale is for sale at other large companies such a pizzerias. Other cheese makers might work in smaller family run stores and plants. It is more common for smaller shops to produce artistically cheeses in small batches because the processing is longer and more intense.

  1. There are typically three levels of Cheese Makers

As with most occupations there are different levels of seniority one can be. This is the same case with cheese makers. The typical levels for artisan cheese makers are:

  • Assistant/Apprentice-  These individuals understand all the technical knowledge surrounding cheese. As apprentice you will work in production and conduct all the associated task involved in cheese making. Tasks include monitoring and sanitizing cheese vats, measuring, weighing ingredients and documentation of the cheesemaking process.
  • Head Cheese Makers– Head cheese makers over see cheese production and makes sure that everything goes smoothly. This includes making sure milk arrives after delivery and testing the quality of the cheese. It is common for them to perform hiring duties and training new staff members.
  • Owners- Owners of a cheese company have the highest up position. At this point one knows everything there is to know about their stores cheese and can easily distinguish if everything is up to standards. It is more common for someone to start their own company and become and owner than it is to work their way up the ranks.
  1. There is no standardized path for cheese makers

According to a survey by the American Cheese Society the majority of cheese professionals are self-taught or gained technical knowledge from on-the-job training. That means that if you are able to get your foot through the door as apprentice you are well on your way to becoming a full fledged cheese maker. Some professionals are born into families which have been making cheese for numerous number of years.

Having a food science degree or a diploma relating to cheese making will help you obtain a job in larger industrial scale companies. However, many workers enter the industry with a basic high school degree. Having experience in food production will be helpful but is not a necessity. If you are interested in becoming a cheese maker it is suggested you contact your local county farm or cheese counter. Understanding the differences between cheeses is a great start for your cheese making journey.

  1. Cheese makers practically live in rubber boots and overalls

Places which produce cheese are often humid and wet. Cheese makers practically live in white coats, rubber boots and a hair nets because it helps to ensure food safety and quality. The nature of the job is wet and messy as cheese makers transfer milk to different vats and work with their hands to move curds to cheese molds. Furthermore, the job is highly repetitive as many of the same cheese are produced every day so make sure your comfortable getting wet!

  1. A cheese maker can become certified

In the United States the American Cheese Association welcomes anyone who has an occupation relating to cheese. However, if you are a well-experience cheese maker who wants to become certified than you can. The ACS provides cheese professionals with the chance to become fully certified based on an individuals of comprehensive cheese knowledge and service.  The exam is a maximum of 3 hours and participants are required to answer 150 multiple choice questions from  cheese knowledge and best practices, and evaluates candidates’ understanding of core competencies. A Canadian certification equivalent does not appear to be present in Canada.

  1. Cheese makers depend on their palate

You might not think about it but every batch of cheese is slightly different. Small variances occurs in a cows diet which ultimately affect the quality and taste of its milk. A trained cheese maker has a high attention for detail and are able to figure out problems can figure out cheese production problems simply by taste.  As well, cheese makers need to have a superior palate to know when a cheese has aged correctly and is ready for super market shelves.Some cheese makers milk their own animals just to acquire the perfect tasting milk!

7. Cheese makers sometimes take care of animals

It is not uncommon for producers of specialty cheese stores to raise their own sheep, goats and cows. Many claim that this leads to superior quality cheese as the milk can be used at its freshest. As well, this enables the cheese maker to have total control of the cheese making process. This is the perfect job for someone who loves cheese and the chance to work with animals

8. Cheese makers need a certain set of skills

As with any occupation there are certain sets of skills which will aid you better than others. For a cheese maker these skills include:

Keen power of observation-  Cheese makers need to be in tune with the cheeses they are making. Cheeses which are aged need to be inspected frequently to ensure the ripening process happens correctly. Cheese makers should be able to tell minor differences between cheeses and what they mean.

Ability to stand for long periods of time-  The majority of a cheese makers job takes place on their feet. Makers need to be comfortable with bending, twisting, turning and other associated actions.  They clean, set up cheese form and transfer cheese curds curds from vats.  As well, transfer cheeses from one part of the factory to another. As you can imagine this is all very physical!

Ability to operate machineryCheese today is typically produced in large vats while milk is transported through pipes through out a plant. Typically curds need to be cut and this is usually performed by mechanical wires. Therefore, to develop these processes the cheese maker needs to be comfortable working with machinery.  They need to be able to closely monitor operation equipment and make sure everything is moving correctly.

Related: Are You a Budding Cheese Maker?  Ontario Needs You! & Ontario Cheese Maker Shortage Sparks New Program

Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a Chemistry student studying at Ryerson University and loves looking at the science in the kitchen. She is currently on a path to find her place in the food manufacturing industry. When Veronica is taking a break from  her food endeavours you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.


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