Cheesemakers make and shape cheeses from milk and other ingredients. They follow recipes for making cheeses, measure and mix the ingredients, including the starter culture (micro-organisms which curdle the milk) and any flavourants.
The craft of making cheese dates back at least 4,000 years. Archaeological evidence exists of cheese-making by the ancient Egyptian civilisations.
To make cheese, the cheesemaker warms milk in a cheese vat to the temperature required to promote growth of the bacteria that bring about fermentation or curdling of the milk. Cheesemakers choose starter cultures to give a cheese its specific characteristics. When the cheesemaker makes a mould-ripened cheese such as Stilton, Roquefort or Camembert, mould spores (fungal spores) may be added to the milk in the cheese vat, or can be added later to the cheese curd.
Tasks of the cheesemaker include taking product samples for testing, controlling the cooking of the cheeses, inspecting and cleaning the equipment and checking that the cheeses are shaped or cut to the right size and weight. They check the maturation times of the cheeses and that the matured cheeses have the correct texture and taste. Cheesemakers are also responsible for keeping records of the ingredients used and the production dates.
Cheesemakers work indoors in a clean environment. They use separating and cooking equipment, weighing machines, computerised and other electrical equipment, laboratory testing equipment etc, and wear protective clothing.