Dry salting our Milawa Blue

The dry salting of a Milawa Blue (and all blue cheeses) is an extremely vital step. Our Executive Cheesemaker and Operations Manager, Cam, explains the importance of salting, a cheesemaking process many cheese-lovers don’t know about.

The first day of a Milawa Blue’s life is spent in a round hoop, transforming itself over night from freshly strained milk curds into a much more solid, round wheel. The next morning, these young Milawa Blue cheeses are dry salted.

What is dry salting?

Salting is when salt is added to a young cheese through a particular method (the three main methods: dry salting, brining, and dry surface rubbing) for a range of particular benefits.

The dry salting method involves rubbing salt over the entire surface of the cheese, and this is normally performed after forming the cheese and before air drying and ageing.

Here at Milawa Cheese Company, as our cheeses are all handmade, we salt by hand. We rub the dry salt on the freshly formed surface of the blocks and wheels in order to salt the cheese and form a rind. It involves continually rubbing roughly three handfuls of salt (we use a super fine Australian sea salt) into all surfaces of a freshly formed wheel of cheese, or baby cheese, for roughly 30 seconds each. The trick to salting blues is to make sure the salt is being correctly rubbed in, not just lightly applied – it must be firmly rubbed into the cheese to achieve the correct salt percentage in the final product. This process happens once a day for three days to ensure that the correct salt percentage in the cheese is achieved.

So, why do we salt our Milawa Blue?

The first thing the salt is doing is slowing down the acidification of the cheese, which is an extremely vital step as having the right amount of acid in the cheese is paramount to success. Salt also modulates the taste, aroma and texture of the cheese as well as encouraging a nice rind to grow, and to help prevent microbial/microorganism growth. A blue cheese without the right amount of salt is NOT a nice cheese at all! If there is too little salt, the cheese will have a flat flavour, too much acid, and a short shelf-life. Too much salt and the cheese will have a salty flavour, poor acid, and moisture issues.

After the three days of required dry salting, the cheeses are moved into a cool room where they will stay in special cheese hoops (which shapes the cheese) for another two weeks to mature. After this, the wheels are punctured with metal spikes to allow for air to reach the mould and help it grow.

Now, when you eat your next piece of Milawa Blue, you’ll understand a bit more about how it came to be and the importance of salt in the process. Shop the end product of our delicious Milawa Blue cheese here.