Membrane Filtration for Cheese Making

Membrane filtration has a number of applications in the cheese making industry, which can lead to improved quality of product and process efficiency, and so increase yield and plant productivity. Using membrane filtration as an alternative to traditional cheese making techniques can also drive innovation in this highly competitive industry.

Cheese milk standardization

The composition of cheese milk will vary, dependent upon the source of the milk and factors such as changes in the dairy herd’s diet over the course of a year. GEA’s membrane filtration technology can be used to standardize both the fat and protein content of cheese milk to meet the precise requirements of each cheese product, and to compensate for variations in milk composition. This means that cheese makers can use the same manufacturing process throughout the year and be confident of the consistency of their final product.

Cheese processing

GEA membrane filtration can be used as an alternative to traditional cheese making techniques, for example, to separate whey from milk with or without the addition of clotting agents to improve yield and to manipulate cheese properties as part of the development of new products.

Cheese brine clarification

Salt brine is used to cure many different varieties of cheese. During the process, fats and proteins are expelled from the cheese into the brine bath. The brine may also become contaminated with yeast and mold cells that can taint the flavor of the cheese and have a detrimental effect on shelf life. However, disposal of salt brine is expensive and often prohibited owing to its high salt content. GEA’s ultrafiltration technology can be used as a practical and environmentally sustainable technique to separate out the fats, proteins, mold and yeast cells from the brine, so that the salt brine bath can be reused repeatedly and its chemical equilibrium maintained.

Cheese milk fortification

As well as standardizing milk, GEA’s ultrafiltration technologies can be used to fortify the milk feed, increasing the concentration of fats and proteins (especially casein protein) that are essential for cheese making, while reducing the proportion of less important components such as lactose. This reduces the overall volume of the feed, effectively enabling cheese makers to increase the efficiency of downstream fixed assets by removing, prior to processing, those non-essential components that would otherwise become part of the whey stream. Fortification levels can be manipulated to match the capacity of downstream processes, but increased concentration levels of up to 25% fat and protein in the feed milk are common. 


Wash water, CIP and product recovery

GEA also offers its proven membrane filtration technology for the recovery of wash water, clean-in-place (CIP) chemicals and product residues. This saves money by reducing the use of raw materials, as well as supporting a more environmentally sustainable process and generating an added value product stream.