FROMART® cheese is hand crafted. From the setting of the milk, to cutting and hoping and the maturation of the cheese, our hands are always involved. By touching the cheese, we can evaluate the consistency of the cheese structure, the maturation progress in the ripening room as well as the hardness of each cheese type.
In cheese making, the senses, be it the smell, the taste and the touch and feel give us an indication of how the cheese is developing its body, structure and flavour.
Milk as the main element
The quality of milk used has a direct bearing on the quality of cheese produced.
Only fresh, untreated milk from local farms around Gympie is used in the production of FROMART® Cheese. Special feeding regulations, including a ban on silage, result in a top quality basic raw milk which gives the cheese its unique flavour.
Warming and curdling
Apart from a certain amount of mechanization and improved processing techniques, the art of cheese making has hardly changed in the last 100 years.
The freshly delivered milk is first tested for quality, weighed and transferred to a vat.
In conformity with Australian Food regulation, the raw milk is first pasteurized at 65 °C for 30 min and then cooled down to about 35 °C while being kept in constant movement by an automatic stirrer. The cheese cultures are then added and left in the vat so the cultures can multiply.
Vegetable rennet is then added to the warm milk and the stirring mechanism is then switched off. Rennet causes the milk to curdle and the natural bacterial cultures promote the later fermentation and maturing of the cheese.
Preliminary stages and heating
It takes about 30 - 40 minutes for the milk to curdle. The resulting delicate, yoghurt-like mass is then cut into uniform pieces, using a stirrer strung with wires or knives known as a cheese harp.
The cheese grains, as they are called, become smaller and smaller and a watery whey begins to form. In order to draw out even more water, the whey and cheese grain mixture is heated to between 38°C and 53°C during the stirring process.
Filling and pressing
After stirring, the mass is pumped into cheese forms (hoops depending on cheese type).
The cheese wheels are then pressed for between 2 and 48 hours (depending on cheese type). During pressing, any remaining whey is forced out through the fine mesh of the form .
Maturation and storage
After pressing, the cheese wheels are immersed in a salt brine for 2 up to 48 hours, losing water and absorbing salt. The rind, which will give the cheese wheel its stability, begins to form. Smaller cheeses remain in the brine only for a short time while larger cheeses need more time to absorb salt and build a stable rind.
Next, the cheese wheels are kept in a cool storage cellar at 13 – 14°C where they are turned and smeared regularly until the correct degree of maturation has been achieved. The cheese is then ready to be sold.
Semi hard cheeses such as the Mutschli or Tilsit are matured between 3 and 12 weeks and can already be enjoyed as mild alpine cheeses after 2 or 3 weeks or can be further matured for the connoisseur of aged cheese, depending on taste preferences.
Hard cheeses such as Gruyere or Devils Foot Cheese are being matured for at least 6 months and up to 16 months
Semi hard cheeses such as the Raclette, are matured for a minimum of 4 months and can be further matured up to a year. The unique and strong flavour of our Devils Foot originates in a meticulous maturation process that takes 6 months and more and the flavour of the cheese reflects this extraordinary care during ripening.The Devils Foot is our pride and much sought-after FROMART® specialty.
We are very proud of our Devils Foot and it is a MUST for every chef.
More on Affinage (french for Maturation of cheese)
A newborn FROMART® cheese is usually slightly salty yet bland in flavor and, for harder varieties, rubbery in texture. After the production and the salting of the cheese, FROMART® cheeses are left to rest under carefully controlled conditions. This ageing period (also called ripening, or, from the French, affinage) can last from a few weeks to many months. As our cheese ages, microbes and enzymes transform its texture and intensify its flavor.
At FROMART®, we evaluate all cheeses every day in order to determine the frequency of the turning and smearing of each cheese. We pay extremely high attention to this part of the cheese development, since it gives our cheeses its unique flavour and distinctive touch.