Proper cheese salting requires an understanding of the best storage, handling and application practices in order to achieve a safe, uniform product, as uneven salting of the curd can lead to cheese defects.
Adapted from the Center for Dairy Research article, “Salting of Cheese: Simple or Not?”
There are three main ways to salt cheese: dry salting; brining; and dry surface rubbing. Nicole Durch, Senior Technical Service Representative at Cargill Salt, assisted Dean Sommer of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research in developing the article “Salting of Cheese: Simple or Not?”, featured in a 2016 publication of Dairy Pipeline.
Dry salting is the direct addition of salt crystals to the surface of fresh curd. For cheese varieties like Cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack, traditionally dry salt can be applied manually on the curd by an operator who allows the agitation of the curd table to uniformly mix the salt into the curd. Larger cheese plants with enclosed finished vats or salting belts, can use filtered, dehumidified air to pneumatically convey the salt to the salting vat or belt where the salt is automatically distributed onto the curd.
Brining is a salting technique utilized in cheese variates such as low moisture part skim or whole milk mozzarella, wheel Parmesan, wheel Gouda, wheel Swiss, Gruyere and others. It involves the immersion of cheese in a brine for a specific period of time. As salt is being taken up by the cheese from the brine, the cheese releases water into the brine, which results in a reduction in the salt concentration in the brine. Replenishing the salt in the brine at an appropriate level is critical to maintaining salt levels in brined cheeses.
Dry surface rubbing is used for Swiss, Baby Swiss, some blue and Brie cheeses, and Limburger. Dry salt can be rubbed on the surface of the blocks and wheels in order to salt the cheese and form a rind.
Choose a salt that allows for maximum salt absorption and the creation of a uniform cheese.
Salt is a hugely important factor in cheese functionality. Too little salt and the cheese will have flat flavor, too much acid, and a short shelf-life. Too much salt and the cheese will have a salty flavor, poor acid, and moisture issues. Maintaining consistency during the salting process is key to manufacturing a safe and delicious cheese product.
Durch, Nicole and Sommer, Dean. “Salting of Cheese: Simple or Not?” Dairy Pipeline 28.2 (2016):7-10. Center for Dairy Research and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Accessed on 18 Jul 2016. Retrieved from https://www.cdr.wisc.edu/sites/default/files/pipelines/2016/pipeline_2016_vol28_02.pdf “2009 HealthFocus Trend Report”