Happy Cheese Makers Since 1978

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Cheese Cultures

QI found a copy of your book at our local library and would like to start making my own cheese. Many of your recipes (cottage cheese, cream cheese) call for mesophilic starter, but on the internet, it says it is for hard cheeses. Please help me to figure which culture to use .

A Mesophilic culture is used for most soft cheeses as well as any hard cheeses that are not heated over 102F... 'meso' means middle and these cultures are great for cheese making where the recipe requires 'middle' temperatures (between 68F and 102F)

thermophilic cultures means 'heat loving' and these will do best for the higher temperature cheeses that require cooking to 104F-128F

my suggestion would be to order Ricki's book "Home Cheese Making" available from the web site below and one of the cheese kits .. If you run into any problems we will be glad to help you out

QWhen making the different cheeses what determine which culture is used. Are there specific cultures for certain cheeses or is it based on flavor/opinion? Could I use Flora Danica for any cheese or only certain ones? What about C1 and on what cheese should this be used?

A If you had about 3 days I could give you the short answer to this one
.... The specific cultures are chosen for several of many qualities in making a cheese
Flora Danica is an aromatic culture producing Diacatyl and CO2 for a more open texture
Our standard mesophilic cultures (C1- C101) are very neutral and produces mostly acid initially
.. Others provide diacytyl and produce CO2.. Some are fast acid producers ..
Still others work at higher temperatures such as our thermophilic cultures (C2-C201)...

Some of the decisions are made for traditional reasons others are made from experience

basically this is why there are many different cheese made from the same milk.. Learning when to use what and how to work with it is what any cheese maker aspires to.

QCan I re-culture starter culture with the direct set . I have one mesophilic direct set packet left and wonder if I should set it into 1quart of milk like I've read about.

ANo .. This culture is designed for a single inoculation of milk... there are other cultures out there for making mother cultures ( order C1 from our catalog)

QI ordered the fresh culture packet because it said it would produce cottage cheese, pot cheese, neufchatel and other soft cheeses. The lady I spoke with at your company said I would use that instead of mesophilic culture in the recipes. What is difference in these 2 mesophilic cultures?

AThe fresh culture (C3) is a mesophilic culture but has 2 extra elements to produce more aroma and flavor..along with a little gas for a more open texture
The simple mesophilic culture (C1 or C101) will simply provide you with the acidity and clean flavor you need for other cheeses.

QCan you tell me how I would know what starter or how much starter to add to various recipes in place of the packet listed in the recipe in the Cheesemaking Made Easy book.

AGreat question.. and I am always surprised at how rarely it gets asked.. but.. I am sure you will be less than pleased with our answer... 25 years ago when Ricki started this whole thing.. It was pretty easy to make cheese as long as you made lots of it.. The problem of course was that there were no cultures or other enzymes available in small enough quantity for the home cheese maker.. this is what Ricki found her role to be.. Find the supplies for the small cheese maker and teach them how to do it... she is still the only person packing the cultures in these small quantities

... Now as you perhaps know there are many different kinds of cultures out there.. They all do slightly different things for the cheese... so how is one to know which to use.. Years of experience that is how... and the real truth is that what works for one farm and their milk may not work the same for the next.. This is something I have been working at for many years and am beginning to incorporate into my advanced workshops.. It is not something that can be straightened out in a few paragraphs on the internet.. Hopefully in the next few months we will begin to offer some expanded cultures and a method to reuse these large quantities for the small cheese maker..

I currently use 6-8 different cultures

The same applies to how much to use... I have no idea of what level you are at in cheese making .. but if you are really driven to find this info it will be a slow process of research and experimentation..

QI used Ricki's Goat Cheese Kit but the milk did not thicken after the 15-24 hours. Is the Mother Culture good even though it is not thicker or buttermilk? Could we need another Fresh Starter Culture (C3) if the milk did not maintain a strict 72 degree F.? The weather cooled off and the jar probably got a little cooler than the 72 degrees.

A If the starter did not thicken then I would not use it and suggest 1 of 2 problems here

1...Your starter may be too old and not working or perhaps not enough used.. also try making your starter in powdered milk mixed up and held overnight before adding your culture to it.

2... your milk may have antibiotics or damaged in some other way.. you need to know more about the milk you use.

A couple degrees off of the 72F should not make that big a difference

QI had bought direct set Mesophilic culture almost a year ago. Due to several issues, I never used it. It has been kept in the freezer. Last week I made cheddar for the first time. All appears to have gone well. I question whether the culture is good. Following both ripening and the coagulation(1.5 hrs) the milk still tasted sweet. Should I have tasted acid? pH paper?

A I need a bit more info here: .. It all depends on what type cheese you were making... do you have any idea of acid level here.. curd/whey need to get down to a pretty low pH before you will actually taste acid... cheddar curds at molding still taste pretty sweet
... I would be surprised if the culture was not working here... it is a matter of how well it is working

QI am still new to cheese making and I have just been following the recipes in Cheese Making Made Easy. Which part of the process develops the acid? What could I do to assure that I give it enough time for acid development?

AThe cultures are responsible for this increase in acidity until you remove the whey and salt
...to really understand it you will need to learn how to use a pH meter and to titrate for acid... this is something I cover in detail in my advanced workshops

QI made Quark according to the recipe, which I got from your company. Heating milk to 88 Fahrenheit, taking it off the stove and stirring in the Buttermilk culture. Letting it sit 24 hours out side of the wonderful consistency, but a stinky late aftertaste. Where is that from? Is it the 30 hours instead of 24?

AWhat was the source of your buttermilk? If the buttermilk did not start ripening quickly enough, other bacteria can take hold and leave a characteristic 'unclean' flavor/aroma

QI will be attempting to make Provolone Cheese..According to your recipe "the milk will be heated to 97 degrees and the starter will be added.." My question is..should the milk stay at 97 degrees as it ripens for 30 minutes or do I add the starter and let it ripen with out continuing to heat it...

AYou must add the starter and then keep the milk @ 97F for the 30 min. the starter culture is very temp specific and by raising or lowering the milk temp you will change it's activity and cause the acid production to vary

QDo you sell the Emmenthaler culture that is listed in a recipe in your cheese making book?

AYes if you are talking about the Propionic culture it is in our catalog on the web.. Cat# C6
I use this culture a lot and get a fabulous sweet nut like flavor with my Gruyere.. To get the large hole development will take a bit of practice.. key here is to end up w/ a curd of the proper pH, elasticity, and moisture and to have the proper warm-cool spaces to develop the eyes properly

QHow long will my cultures last?

ADirect Set Cultures will last up to 2 years when stored in the freezer. Prepared Cultures will last for as long as you can keep them going without getting any contamination into them from outside bacteria.
The freeze dried packages will last up to 2 years in the freezer. It is always a good idea to have soem of each culture on hand just in case.

QHow can I tell if my culture is still working?

AWhen your culture is active it will coagulate your milk when left out overnight. Acidity testing is the true way to test your culture. After adding a starter culture to your milk the acidity will slowly begin to rise. (See section on testing acidity.)
Because many people who are making cheese at home will not do this step, you can usually assume that when using Direct Set Cultures they are still active if stored properly in the freezer for up to 2 years. When using a mother culture you will be able to tell in the preparation because if the bacteria are not active your milk will not thicken overnight.

Our Cheese is too Sour! We have been making cheese for about a month now and our first cheese turned a month old on Sunday. We figured that we would cut it open(we had some leakage problems and had to re-wax it a couple of weeks ago anyway) and it was sour. Tonight we noticed that another of our new creations was leaking as well. Is this normal????? ... Will there be liquid inside all of our cheeses or have we done something wrong in the process?? Thank you for all the great products and hopefully the now great advice.

AA month is still a bit young but your problems are not going to change much w/ aging.... a sour cheese is caused by not developing enough acidity before molding it or not stirring it or scalding to high enough temp ..in this case the curd can not contract enough to squeeze out the whey and you are left w/ a very wet cheese going into the mold... this whey contains a rich supply of lactose to feed the bacteria which cause the souring..

next time try one of the following..
... increase the scald temp by a few degrees
... increase the time of stirring after the scald

the liquid under your wax and the sourness are the tip offs here

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