Step 4: Ripening

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Before the ripening process, many different procedures can be undertaken, or ingredients added, to give each cheese its distinct character. Ripening involves the careful control of humidity, temperature and oxygen levels to nurture the cheese to maturity. It is during the ripening process that cheeses take on their unique characteristics of flavor, texture and aroma. There are 2 kinds of ripened cheeses:

  • Ripening starts within and occurs throughout the body of the cheese.
  • Cheese is vacuum-packed or waxed to ensure that no oxygen reaches the surface.
Cheese with eyes (Swiss type) Holes are formed in the softer parts of the cheese curd by bacteria.
Cheese with no eyes (Cheddar) Lactic ferments ripen the cheese to make a uniformly smooth texture.


  • Ripening starts on the surface and progresses to the interior.
  • Microorganisms are applied to the surface of the cheese.
  • These cheeses have surface rind.
Bloomy rinds (Brie, Camembert type) Penicillium culture is sprayed on the surface to make a velvety white rind.
Washed rinds (Oka, Raclette type, etc.) The surface is washed with a solution known as “red smear”.

There are also cheeses that do not undergo a ripening process:

Unripened / Fresh Cheese

Cheese that is cut, packaged and distributed for sale after draining. Bocconcini is an unripened cheese.

Pasta Filata

Italian term for cheeses made with curd that is heated in hot whey and mechanically stretched before being pressed into moulds. The resulting cheeses are more elastic. Examples are Fior di Latte, Caciocavallo, Mozzarella and Bocconcini.

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