Crafted by hand
Fromart cheese is hand crafted. From the setting of the milk, to cutting, 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, smell, taste and touch, give us an indication of how the cheese is developing its body, structure and flavour.
Fromart Australian made Swiss cheeses
Apart from a certain amount of mechanisation and improved processing techniques, the art of cheese making has not changed much in the past 100 years. Milk is delivered fresh and tested for quality, before being weighed and transferred to a vat.
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.
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 switched off. Rennet causes the milk to curdle and the natural bacterial cultures promote the later fermentation and maturing of the cheese.
It takes around 30 to 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, 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. After stirring, the mass is pumped into cheese forms and the cheese wheels are then pressed for between two and 48 hours. During pressing, any remaining whey is forced out through the fine mesh of the form.
The cheese wheels are then immersed in a salt brine for two 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.
The cheese wheels are then kept in a cool storage cellar at 13 to 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.
Traditional Swiss cheeses
Our Swiss cheeses are only produced during the summer months when the cows enjoy their annual holiday in the alps. It is these stunning conditions, summer rich milk, and century old traditions that make our Swiss cheese so unique.
The local farmers in each rural town supply the cheese factory with fresh raw milk that is turned into delicious cheese varieties. The Swiss dairy industry follows strict rules on what the cows are allowed to eat and the control of the raw material is a Swiss obsession but naturally has big effect on the superb quality of the cheese at the end.
Cheese making in Switzerland is not just a profession, it is a lifestyle and cheesemaking families often live nearby their cheese factory to keep a close eye on the entire process from milk delivery to the maturation each day.
As cheese makers in alpine huts use an open fire to heat up the milk and curd, the milk is only heated to a temperature suitable for the addition of the cheese cultures and rennet. As it is not possible to heat up and cool down the milk again (known as pasteurisation) in the huts, all cheeses made in alpine areas are made using raw milk.
Once they are ready for maturation, they are shipped to us in Australia where we continue the maturation process in our specially-built cheese cellar.
Maturing the cheeses
After the production and the salting of the cheese, they 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 cheese ages, microbes and enzymes transform its texture and intensify its flavour.
We evaluate the cheese every day to determine the frequency of the turning and smearing of each cheese, and we pay strong attention to this stage as it gives our cheeses their unique flavours.
Semi hard cheeses such as the Mutschli or Tilsit are matured between three and 12 weeks or can enjoyed as mild alpine cheeses after 2 or 3 weeks, depending on taste preferences.
Hard cheeses such as Gruyere or Devils Foot Cheese are matured for at least six months and can be left for to 16 months to ensure a strong bite to the flavour. We are very proud of our Devils Foot and believe it is a MUST for every chef thanks to its unique and strong flavour, which is the result of a meticulous maturation process that makes it a sought-after Fromart specialty.
Semi hard cheeses such as the Raclette, are matured for a minimum of 4 months and can be further matured up to a year.