Supporting versatile cheese production

Membrane filtration is essential in cheese production because different types of cheese require specific concentrations of the different milk components. It also enables the fractionation of milk components based on their size and molecular weight, which is an asset when controlling cheese milk composition. By selectively allowing certain substances to pass through while retaining others, membrane filtration is also an effective way to concentrate milk. This is beneficial in cases where a higher concentration of specific milk components is desired for cheese-making.

Filtration also plays an important role in clarifying cheese brine, which is commonly used in cheese production for product preservation and texture control and to enhance flavour and optimize rind formation. 

Benefits

Maximum product yield

Membrane filtration allows cheesemakers to get the most from their cheese milk. The selective concentration of desired milk components allows production to be tailored to achieve exactly the right product characteristics. The result: high product yield and minimum waste. Part-concentration using membrane filtration increases the total solids of cheese milk by three to five times prior to entry into a coagulation system and can increase yield by 10 to 15 percent.

High product quality

Filtration membranes standardize cheese milk by separating components like fat, proteins and lactose. They also remove bacteria and spores, ensuring a safe and attractive product.

Increased cheese vat utilization

Filtration membranes make it possible to concentrate cheese milk, allowing cheesemakers to increase the utilization of cheese vats and whey-draining equipment.

Uses

White milk

Cheese milk concentration

Higher efficiency

Concentrating cheese milk is a key part of the cheesemaking process, and ultrafiltration is a popular way to perform this task. Several types of concentration can be performed. In pre-concentration, the total solids content of standardized cheese milk doubles, which increases cheese vat utilization by 100 percent and makes the cheesemaker’s process twice as efficient.
Feta cheese, lemons and garlic

Feta and fresh cheese

High yield, uniform quality

Feta and similar cheese types are manufactured by fully concentrating milk using ultrafiltration. Culture or acid, rennet, salt and other additives are added to the filtration retentate. The finished cheese is then ready for packaging. The ultrafiltration process results in a high, uniform quality and a very high yield. At the same time it is possible to manufacture several different products on the same ultrafiltration plant. Fresh cheese types based on fermented milk or cream, such as quark or cream cheese, can also be manufactured using ultrafiltration. After fermentation, the product is concentrated to the desired level by ultrafiltration membranes. This is followed by final treatment and packaging.
Classic cream cheese

Classic cream cheese

Optimal product structure

In classic cream cheese production, fresh milk is fermented and then concentrated by membrane filtration to create the right product texture. Ultrafiltration is a gentle concentration method that preserves the fat-to-protein ratio while removing only water, minerals and lactose. It delivers the optimal cream cheese structure. Ultrafiltration units are versatile and can manage multiple recipes – from low-fat to full-fat. They can also support different production capacities of these varieties. Ultrafiltration also gives a higher yield than the other concentration option – separation. This means less skimmed milk is needed to achieve the desired protein level in the spread.
Mini mozzarellas in brine

Cheese brine clarification

For perfect texture and taste

High quality brine is essential to cheese flavour, taste, rind and appearance. Poor quality brine jeopardizes cheese quality and can lead to product spoilage and financial loss. Over time, microorganisms like bacteria, spores, yeast and mould build up in the brine and can migrate to the cheese during the salting process, contaminating the cheese surface and degrading the product’s quality.
Cottage cheese, butter, milk etc on a wooden board

Protein standardization of cheese milk

Lower costs, higher yield

Standardizing total protein content in cheese milk evens out seasonal variations in milk protein content, stabilizing the cheesemaking process and improving cheese vat utilization. Total protein standardization also reduces rennet costs and increases the cheese yield per mass of milk. This gives more control in the production process, reducing quality variation in the final product. Ultrafiltration is the favoured technology for standardizing total protein. The process improves control of curd-making properties and yields a high-quality whey stream free from fat, casein, bacteria, rennet and spores.
Milk powder

Casein standardization of cheese milk

Eliminating seasonal variations

Standardizing casein, the main protein in cheese milk, evens out season variations in milk protein content, stabilizing the cheesemaking process and improving cheese vat utilization. Casein standardization also reduces rennet costs and increases the cheese yield per mass of milk. This gives more control in the production process, reducing quality variation in the final product. Microfiltration is the favoured technology for standardizing casein. The process improves control of curd-making properties and yields a high-quality whey stream free from fat, casein, bacteria, rennet and spores.
Milk being poured

Spore and bacteria removal in cheese

Ensuring high product quality

Traditionally, cheese’s natural content of anaerobic spores like Clostridia, which survive normal pasteurization, was controlled by adding nitrate and other additives to cheese milk. The nitrate breaks down, preventing the anaerobic spore from growing and producing gas. In many markets, consumer demands for natural products free from preservatives has seen a step away from nitrate. Instead, cheesemakers separate cream by centrifugation and then use microfiltration to treat the skim milk. The wide pores of the microfiltration unit remove spores and undesirable bacteria while allowing all other non-fat milk components to pass.

Technologies

BrineClear unit from Tetra Pak

Clear, pure brine

BrineClearTM clarifier

BrineClear clarifier technology uses membrane filtration to ensure high-quality brine at all times. The BrineClear process uses removes undesirable microorganisms, leaving clear brine. No additives are used and the brine’s temperature and pH remain unchanged throughout the filtration process. The chemical balance of the brine and the content of whey proteins and soluble salts, such as sodium chloride and calcium, is also unaffected. A clarifier unit is easily connected to an existing brine system and can also be installed for continuous or batch operation in which filtered brine is transferred to a separate tank or bath.
Microfiltration unit from Tetra Pak

Standardizing casein content

Microfiltration

In cheesemaking, microfiltration is used to standardize casein content in the cheese. This is a crucial step since casein coagulation lies at the heart of the cheesemaking process. Standardizing casein content in cheese milk evens out the seasonal variations in casein presence, delivering a more stable cheesemaking process and improved cheese vat utilization. Microfiltration membranes have the largest pore size of the four main dairy filtration technologies. They allow most substances to pass except suspended solids, bacteria and fat globules. Bacteria and spore removal is a crucial step in cheese production and essential to ensure cheese quality and safety.
Ultrafiltration unit from Tetra Pak

Total protein separation

Ultrafiltration

Ultrafiltration membranes are used for concentrating large molecules, notably protein, in milk prior to cheesemaking. Standardizing cheese milk protein content evens out seasonal variations in milk protein content, delivering a more stable cheesemaking process and improved cheese vat utilization. Ultrafiltration membrane allow mineral salts, lactose, organic acids and smaller peptides to pass through as permeate. Proteins, fats and polysaccharides remain in the product as retentate. The low-impact process makes it possible to achieve precisely the protein level that the cheesemaker seeks for each product.

Ultrafiltration - a proven technology for white cheese production

The ultrafiltration (UF)​ method for white cheese production was introduced in the early 1970s and has been widely used ever since. Membrane filtration is an established and proven technology for nearly any dairy process, and Tetra Pak Filtration Solutions has supplied and installed more than 30 UF plants for white cheese production around the world. The UF process offers a number of advantages.

Feta cheese with sallad and tomatoes

Better yield

Better yield

With traditional cheese making in vats, only the casein and fat is retained in the cheese. With the UF method, whey proteins as well as casein and fat is retained. In consequence, the UF method requires approximately 20% less milk per kilo cheese.

Less rennet

Less rennet

The need for rennet addition is to a great extent related to volume. In the traditional vat process, it is necessary to rennet the entire milk volume, whereas in the UF method, only the concentrate volume needs renneting. The concentrate volume is typically 5 times less than the milk volume. Accordingly, the rennet consumption will be considerable lower when using the UF method.

Flexibility and product innovation

Flexibility and product innovation

The same UF plant can produce concentrate with a wide variety of compositions i.e. fat in dry matter, and dry matter in concentrate. Product change from one type to another can be handled in fully automatic process control systems via recipe handling. At the same time, the possibility to switch recipes on the same plant offers an excellent opportunity to introduce new products without having to invest in new equipment.

High nutritional value

High nutritional value

In the traditional vat process, virtually all protein in the cheese is casein; in the UF process, the protein in the cheese consists of both casein and whey proteins. The nutritional value of whey protein is higher than that of casein. Hence, the total nutritional value of the finished product is higher when made by UF.

Continuous and faster process

Continuous and faster process

The traditional cheese making process in vats is by nature a batch process. The UF method is a true continuous process; standardised and pasteurised milk is fed into the UF plant, and concentrate leaves the plant in a continuous flow. The UF process is extremely fast, requiring an average of less than 10 minutes from the milk enters until the concentrate leaves the plant.

Closed system

Closed system

Cheese vats used in traditional process are open or semi open and as such sensitive to contamination from microorganisms in the air, especially yeast and mould. The UF process is a fully closed system and therefore not subject to airborne contamination. The benefit is prolonged product shelf life and less waste due to spoilage.

Easy parameter and composition control

Easy parameter and composition control

The traditional cheese making process in vats is very sensitive to several process parameters: temperature, milk acidity, rennetability, coagulum cutting, mechanical stirring and time in the vat. All those parameters are controlled by the cheese maker and based on his knowledge and experience. The UF process eliminates some of the variables with a fully automatic process control system ensuring a uniform concentrate at all times.

Relevant equipment

Membrane types

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Membrane types and applications​

The heart in any membrane filtration process is the membrane itself, and choosing the best membrane for a given process is often a complex task.

Man using membrane installation tool

Membrane tools

We offer a number of handy and easy-to-use systems and tools for installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of your filtration system.

Multi pilot plant spiral wound 60 bar

Rental pilot plants

We offer different types of easy-to-use pilot plants for rental. All the various dairy filtration pro­cesses can be tested by means of our different types.

Insights and cases

Explore more solutions

Cheesemaker smiling and holding a cheese

Cheese

Backed by decades of expertise, we have the knowledge, integrated plant solutions and packaging you need to produce consistently great cheese products.

processing equipment

Processing equipment

We provide complete solutions and equipment for dairy, cheese, ice cream, JNSD and other beverages, powder, plant-based, food and New Food.

Contact our sales team

Service engineers training

Our sales teams are happy to answer any sales or product queries. Please fill out our form so we can better be of assistance.

  • 1 Purpose
  • 2 Request
  • 3 Contact

Purpose of contact

Please select one option

Business area of interest

Select one or more business areas
Please select business area of interest

Contact our sales team

Summary

Purpose of contact
Business area of interest
  • 1 Purpose
  • 2 Request
  • 3 Contact

Specific area of interest

Please select one option

Contact our sales team

Summary

Purpose of contact
Business area of interest
  • 1 Purpose
  • 2 Request
  • 3 Contact

Scope of request

Please select one option

Food category

    Please select one option
    Please select one option
    Please select one option
    Please select one option
    Please select one option
Please select one option

Contact our sales team

Summary

Purpose of contact
Business area of interest
  • 1 Purpose
  • 2 Request
  • 3 Contact

Specific area of interest

Please select business area of interest

Contact our sales team

Summary

Purpose of contact
Business area of interest
Specific area of interest
Scope of request
Food category
  • 1 Purpose
  • 2 Request
  • 3 Contact

What describes your request the best

Please select one option
Please enter this field

Contact our sales team

Summary

Purpose of contact
Business area of interest
Message
Specific area of interest
Scope of request
Food category
What describes your request the best
Your role
  • 1 Purpose
  • 2 Request
  • 3 Contact

Company information

Please enter a valid work email
Please enter this field
Please enter this field
Please enter this field
Please enter this field
Please select one option
Please enter this field

By submitting this form, you confirm you have read and acknowledge Tetra Pak's privacy policy.

Thank you for your interest

Your request has been submitted to our teams and we will be in touch shortly. Please click on the button below if you want to submit another request or if you have another query for us.