As Jindi has experienced continued growth, it has never compromised on the quality of the product. Even with the new factory and its new capacity, the Jindi team continues the tradition of making cheese by hand as they have since the first Jindi cheeses were made in 1985.

The Cow
Jindi cheese is predominantly made from milk produced by Friesian cows. Friesians are also known as Holsteins. It is the most popular breed, identifiable by their black and white appearance. The breed originates from Holland and produces high volumes of milk with a low butterfat content. The health of the cow and farm hygiene is important for the quality of the milk that is critical for high quality cheese. The milk is tested regularly to determine whether the levels of bacteria are normal and the milk is clean and odourless with a fresh flavour.

The Season
There are three prime periods for growth of good pasture that contributes to producing good milk. September is a good month because of the first growth of tender, sweet, green grass that produces fresh milk with a light perfume and delicate flavour. Spring milk makes for good fresh cheese styles. October to December pastures are lush and clovers start to flower during the last spring to summer period. Great feeding conditions and a warmer climate makes for happy cows. This is the optimum time for milk volume and the making of artisan cheese.

March to April brings an end to supplementary feeding with the greening of brown summer paddocks. A second growth of grass will allow a substantial feed period before the cooler weather arrives. Milk will be low in volume but high in fat and protein with seasonal lactation coming to an end. This is a good time for the production of white mould and washed rind cheeses.

The best milk always come from a good diet of fresh natural pastures. Premium areas for good pasture include the volcanic soils of southern Victoria where Jindi Cheese is made.

This is the process by which the fat content of the milk is adjusted to meet the required specification of each cheese, achieved through adding cream or skimming it off. Standardisation can also take place in the form of calcium, protein and ph adjustment. The purpose of standardisation is to ensure good consistency and make the product true to type.

The milk is pasteurised by heating to 72.2 degrees Celcius for a minimum of fifteen seconds then cooled to a specific temperature for cheese making to begin. This treatment destroys all pathogenic organisms that could be detrimental to health and to the cheese making process. Pasteurisation for all cheese making is an Austrlian legal requirement. It alters the micro flora present in the raw milk that aids in producing a consistent product.

Starter Culture
A starter culture containing lactic acid bacteria is added to the milk to convert the milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid. Starter cultures make the cheese more lactic, aid coagulation, help expel moisture from the curd, inhibit the growth of pathogens and contribute to the flavour. The proportion, dose and type of starter culture used depend on the style of cheese being produced and the choice of the cheese maker.

Rennet is then added to the milk to set it. It is an enzyme that will coagulate or "clot" the milk into a solid mass. There are two ways to coagulate milk - enzymic and acidic. Rennet can originate from animals or vegetables or be microbial. At Jindi, the microbial form of rennet is used as it produces firmer cheeses with a sharper flavour.

Cutting of the curd
The curd is then cut to release the whey and remove the moisture from the curd in a process known as synaereses. At this stage stirring will take place by hand or sometimes by large agitators. Cheese with high moisture content is cut into small cubes for soft-ripened cheese or smaller cubes for drier cheeses such as pressed cheese. Factors that affect the synaeresis process include acidity of the milk, rate of acid development, cutting size of curd, temperature, stirring, duration of cheese making and salting.

To the hoops
Moulding and pressing the cheese will assist further in whey expulsion and also determine the texture and shape. The cut curds are then placed into the required mould or hoops and allowed to drain naturally. Once drained the curd settles into a solid mass in the hoops which are turned periodically by hand to assist with the even draining. The cheese will stay on racks in draining rooms for at least 18 hours.

The important step of adding the salt to the cheese will increase acidity, decrease the ph level, help to expel moisture, form curd structure, control unwanted contaminating bacteria, control growth of desirable micro-organisms and develop flavour. Different methods of adding salt to cheese include brining, dry salting and salt to the curd cuts. At Jindi, white mould cheese is submerged in brine for approximately one hour. The Jindi blue cheeses are dry salted and hand rubbed.

Mould growth/maturation
The cheese is put into a maturation room that provides the ideal environment to promote the growth of mould on the cheese. The cheeses are turned several times a day in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. Fat and protein in the cheese curds are broken down by enzymes. This process creates the body, flavour and texture characteristics in the cheese. Time and temperature of storage will determine to what degree of breakdown and therefore the intensity of flavour and body.