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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) The technological process of making cheese. Cheese was one of the first products made by man from milk, and the process of cheesemaking was already well developed in ancient Greece and Rome. Aristotle described the technique for coagulating milk to obtain cheese, and Homer’s epic poems contain information on methods of making cheese. Over the centuries, cheesemaking technology has been refined and new varieties of cheese have been developed. In the Middle Ages, the main cheesemaking region in Europe was the Po River valley in Italy. France produced primarily soft cheeses such as Roquefort and Brie; the most important cheese produced in Switzerland was Swiss (Emmentaler) cheese, and in Holland, Dutch-type (Edam) cheese. Cheese was made in factories in Europe and America beginning in the 19th century.

The first cheesemaking cooperatives in Russia were founded in the second half of the 19th century in Tver’ Province. The chief cheesemaking centers were Central Russia, the Northern Caucasus, Western Siberia, and Byelorussia. The basic type of enterprise was the cooperative cheese dairy using solely manual labor. Russian cheese production in 1913 amounted to about 8,000 tons. In 1973, more than 500,000 tons of cheese were produced in the USSR at 1,347 cheese plants and 128 cheese warehouses. The USSR ranks third in world cheese production, after the USA and France. In 1973, world cheese production was approximately 3 million tons.

The milk of cows, goats, buffalo, and sheep is used to make cheese; the types of milk may be mixed. The basic process is the coagulation of milk with rennet or lactic acid. After the milk is prepared for coagulation by means of standardization, pasteurization, and the addition of bacterial fermenting agents, the milk is coagulated and the excess whey drained off. The resulting curd is cut, shaped, and pressed, and the product is then salted and cured.

The quality of the milk used in cheesemaking is regularly tested for acidity, density, fat content, and microbiological and mechanical purity. If necessary, skim milk or cream is added. The resulting mixture is pasteurized at a temperature of 71°–76°C and then cooled to coagulation temperature (28°–33°C). A bacterial fermenting agent prepared from pure cultures of lactic acid bacteria is added in a proportion ranging from 0.3 to 3 percent by volume, depending on the variety of cheese. A coagulating enzyme is introduced, and calcium chloride (up to 40 g dry matter per 100 kg milk) is added to improve coagulation. The action of the enzyme forms the milk into a firm curd, from which the excess whey is drained away. The curd is cut into cubes or grains, heated, and milled to obtain a uniform mass.

The milled curd is formed in three ways. In the first method, 60–70 percent of the whey is removed from the vat, and the remaining mass, including the rest of the whey, is poured into molds. This method is mainly used to make soft cheeses. In the second method, the milled curd, including the whey, is transferred to an apparatus that separates the whey from the curd. After the whey is drained off, the curd is poured into molds. This method is used to make Russian and Uglich cheeses. In the third method, the milled curd is compacted under a layer of whey, the fluid poured off, and the resulting sheet cut into pieces of appropriate size, which are placed in molds. This method is used to make Soviet, Dutch-type, and Kostroma cheeses.

After the cheese has been formed, it is pressed into wheel or ball shapes, either under its own weight (self-pressing, used primarily for soft cheeses) or by means of a press. The shaped cheese is salted by submersion in a 20–22 percent salt solution. Then the cheese, with the exception of brine-cured types, is transferred to a curing room with controlled temperature and humidity. The curing process gives the cheese its characteristic taste, odor, consistency, appearance, and color. At this time, microflora, exoenzymes, and endoenzymes accumulate in the cheese and take part in the complex biochemical processes accompanying the changes in the cheese’s proteins, fat, and lactose. The action of the enzymes breaks the proteins down into peptides and amino acids and then to ammonia and other simple substances.

In soft cheeses that ripen through the action of surface microflora and mold, especially such mold-ripened cheeses as Roquefort, Russian, and Camembert, the fat undergoes significant changes compared to that of hard cheeses. Lipolysis occurs and causes an accumulation of volatile acids, which give the cheese a pungent taste and odor. The lactose ferments and changes to lactic acid through the action of bacteria. The cheese’s appearance results primarily from the formation of carbon dioxide in the curd. After a dry crust has formed, the finished cheese is generally dipped in paraffin and wrapped in polymer film or covered with an emulsion. Brine-cured cheeses, such as Brinza and Chanakh, ripen in brine; consequently, they do not develop a crust, and have a sharp, salty taste. Green cheese (sapsago) is made from skim milk, whose protein acquires a distinctive pungency during ripening. A powder made from the green leaves of Trigonella caerulae is added to the curd to give the cheese its green color and characteristic odor.

(2) A branch of the dairy industry.


Surkov, V. D., N. N. Lipatov, and N. V. Baranovskii. Tekhnologicheskoe oborudovanie predpriiatii molochnoi promyshelennosti, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.
Dilanian, Z. Kh. Syrodelie, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1973.
Tekhnologiia moloka i molochnykh produktov. Moscow, 1974.
Sbornik tekhnologicheskikh instruktsii po proizvodstvu tverdykh sychuzhnykh syrov. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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