Is cheese acidic or basic? (the pH of cheese)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Is cheese acidic or basic? We will talk about the pH of cheese and other dairy products, and finish with a list of alkaline foods that are great to combine with cheese. 

Is cheese acidic or basic?

Cheese is acidic, this characteristic being one of the most important parameters when making cheese. Acidity in cheese can be measured in two ways: using the cheese’s titratable acidity in question and using the cheese’s pH, the latter measured with a pH meter. 

In chemical terms, acidity can be expressed as the number of free protons of H + atoms that float in milk, cheese, or any other dairy, and the term tends to be somewhat abstract but more comfortable to measure.

In that sense, someone would wonder, and how do you eat that? Acidity is an excellent simplification good enough for cheese-making purposes and plays a massive role in the manufacture of many kinds of cheese. When we make cheese, we must increase the acidity. 

How do we increase it? Explaining what the scientific process of acidification would be like would make things difficult for them, and they would rush out to buy the cheese at the supermarket.

Just understanding that acidity is the key and the first step to making good cheese is enough. Some artisans use starter cultures of lactic acid bacteria. Others add acid, which contains many potential H + atoms and is a faster method if you want to make melted cheeses on an industrial scale and faster.

Just understanding that what produces acidity in cheese is lactic acid generated by bacteria is more than enough. 

Putting the above in perspective, pH is just a number used to quantify how many free H + atoms are present in cheese. Here’s the catch, due to the huge amounts we’re dealing with, and in cheese or batch of milk, there are millions of these protons. In short, pH is a shorthand for counting those protons.

But since chemists like to complicate things, the scale is reversed. That is, the lower the pH value: the higher the acidity and vice versa, the higher the pH level, the lower the acidity, funny, right? These chemicals are actually complicated. In this sense, pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 points.

The pH level of the most common cheeses

The value of the pH or acidity will be decisive when obtaining a type of cheese or other product; the value is taken directly in the wet curd or even the whey, let’s see the values:

Clean milk: between 6.6 and 6.8 pH

Contaminated milk: around 5 ph, which is why it is said that when heated it “cuts” it is very close to the coagulation pH

Yogurt: produced when the value is around 4.6-4.7 pH

Cheese spread: 4.8 to 4.9 pH

Soft cheeses: 5.1 to 5.2 pH

Hard cheese: 5.4 to 5.5 pH

Mozzarella cheese: 5.7 to 5.8 pH

Burgos type enzymatic cheeses: 6.6 pH.

What is the average cheese ph level?

The average pH level of cheese is between 5.1 to 5.9 which falls on the acidic side of the pH meter. However, there are some exceptions and there are cheeses with higher pH levels like camembert or lower levels like American and other mild cheeses.

Why should cheese be acidic?

The pH or acidity value greatly determines the taste of the cheese:

  • Too low acidity in the curd: if the necessary acidity is not reached because we interrupt the action of the bacteria early, the cheese will lose much more serum and it will not be able to make a crust, leaving a cheese that is too wet. To correct it, it would be enough to allow the lactic acid bacteria to act for a longer time if they had been used; otherwise, use them the next time.
  • Too high acidity in the curd: a cheese that is too soft will remain, and instead of maturing, it will continue to ferment, developing a more acidic flavor.

Suppose we want to reduce the acidity of curd. In that case, it can be “washed” with warm water, replacing the whey that we will remove with a saucepan and incorporating the same amount of warm water at about 40ºC, shake gently and repeat the measurement on the curd. The washing can be repeated as many times as necessary until the value is adjusted.

List of alkaline foods to use with cheese

This list contains mainly vegetables and fruits, also some nuts and legumes.

  • Algae
  • Garlic
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Lemons, although it is an acidic food when decomposed in the body, is alkaline.
  • Lentils
  • Limes
  • Lotus root
  • Mineral water
  • Nectarine
  • Onion
  • Khaki
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raspberries
  • Sea salt
  • Spirulina
  • pumpkin
  • Apricots
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Blackberries
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Grape
  • Kale
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Celery
  • Dates
  • Watercress
  • Spinach
  • Escaroles
  • Green peas
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Chestnuts
  • Peppers
  • Endives
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Herbs tea
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Parsley
  • Spices
  • Soy sauce.

Other FAQs about Cheese which you may be interested in.

How to store parmesan cheese?

How to store blue cheese?

How to melt Velveeta?

The bottom line

Cheese is acidic, and this characteristic is what makes it so delicious and versatile. Acidity is the key and the first step to making good cheese. If you have health issues, such as gastritis, eating cheese may cause acid reflux. We recommend eating it in moderation or pairing it with one or more of the alkaline foods mentioned above.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!