Begin by heating the milk to 90F (32C). You do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this in a pot on the stove make sure you heat the milk slowly and stir it well as it heats
Once the milk is at 90F the culture can be added.
Here I detail (don't get scared, it's pretty simple) several options you have and some background on why:
A primary Thermophilus culture that can survive a higher cooking temperature needs to be added.
A secondary culture needs to be added to work in tandem with the Thermophilic culture:
- Helveticus culture is a word referring to the mountains and is likely the original secondary that was found on the farms.
- Bulgaricus culture is a reference to the mountains of eastern Europe and most associated with Yogurt but it is now commonly used in the Alps.
For culture additions you can choose from:
- Yogurt-Y1 This is the combo of Thermophilus and Bulgaricus. It is my favorite because I usually have the culture made up as the house yogurt. It needs to be made up as yogurt before using, and I use about 1/2% of Yogurt to milk volume (~2.5ozs) for the raw milk I use here. You may find that you need to use up to 1-1.25% if using pasteurized milk.
- ThermoB This is similar to the above Y1, but comes as a direct set. Amounts used will vary from 1/4-1/2tsp. depending on milk used, with raw milk needing less.
- C201 This is our small pack Thermo culture, and contains the Thermophilus plus Helveticus culture. 1 pack for raw milk, 1.5-2 packs for pasteurized milk.
- TA061 This is the large pack Thermo culture containing only the Thermophilus culture. Amount used will vary from 1/4-1/2tsp. depending on milk used, with raw milk needing less. It would be my last choice because it is not as complex as the others. If you do have a pack of our LH100 (Helveticus), you can add about 1/8-1/4tsp of this as well to complete the inoculation.
Hopefully I haven't scared everyone off with the details above, but this can add to your culture decisions down the road as well.
These may seem to be lighter culture additions, and they are, because this style of cheese gets a slower acid development. Typical of most Alpine cheeses, they do not want a rapid and high acid development. By nature, they are all sweeter cheeses.
To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in.
The milk now needs to be kept at this target temperature until it is time to increase for cooking the curds. Hold the milk with culture quiet for the next 90 minutes to allow the culture to begin doing its work.
If using the Yogurt, it is already alive and active (like a mother culture) and needs less time.
30-45 minutes of ripening time should be sufficient if using Yogurt.
It will be very slow initially, but will soon kick into its more rapid rate of converting lactose to lactic acid.
While you are waiting for the curd to ripen, make sure your molds and drain cloth are ready for the finished cheese.