3

I have decided to give a go at home cheesemaking.

I got a nice book by Mary Karlin, which seems to explain things relatively well. Now, most recipes would call for something like 1/4 tsp of starter for a gallons milk (=3.7l milk)

So I proceeded to find some starters... and here comes the problem.

Obviously I don't intend to produce tons of cheese, and the smallest packaging I've found is freeze-dried sachets of ~10g, which most vendors say is good for 100 to 300l milk!

Some websites tell you to dilute the whole pack into 1l milk, then aliquot it and freeze it for storage. Is this a viable option (the microbiologist in me says a big yes)? Or would I be better at taking a little bit of freeze-dried product everytime (hmmmm)?

Any suggestion would be appreciated.

  • Do you have a precision scale? I suspect that the "dilute then freeze" option is a comfortable solution for people who can't divide a 10 g sachet well. But if you can reliably measure hundredths of grams, taking the exact small amount every time should work too. – rumtscho Jul 20 '14 at 7:30
  • Unfortunately my scale goes to 1g only... I have got a very precise one in the lab, but no way anything that I will eat is going to touch that! :) Any thoughts about stability of powder vs frozen milk? – nico Jul 20 '14 at 8:23
  • I don't know about the viability, never made cheese. As for the scale, there are limted range high precision scales for home use at very reasonable prices, I got mine for maybe 11 Euro. I use it all the time in bread baking, and sometimes for additives like xanthan, it's quite useful in the kitchen. – rumtscho Jul 20 '14 at 9:50
  • @rumtscho: thanks, thought they were more expensive. Just got one from Amazon. – nico Jul 20 '14 at 10:10
  • I've never heard of the technique to dilute the whole pack in milk and then freeze for storage. But it's interesting. Can you provide a link to those websites? – SamBobb Jul 28 '14 at 20:13
3

I was told by a cheese merchant who sold me the culture and rennet, to store the culture in the freezer, and the rennet in the fridge.

I hadn't used it in more than two years and it's still alive and working. (as tested a few weeks ago)

  • Good to know! So the culture was freeze-dried, or did you freeze it after dissolving it in milk? – nico Jul 22 '14 at 20:18
  • I just froze it in the little plastic jar it came in. I guess that means freeze dried. It's a crumbly dry cheese looking substance (perhaps 5 grams of it in the jar) – 120 Things in 20 years Jul 22 '14 at 20:23
1

Mary Karlin addresses this in "Artisan Cheese Making at Home" -- it sounds like you have this book.

Her recommended method is to divide the pack of dry culture into smaller doses, using a precision scale. You can store these in small ziplock bags, in a bigger ziplock bag, in the freezer.

Your starter came freeze-dried. That process made it both cold and dry. The overall idea is to keep the bacteria dormant by keeping them at low temperature and maintaining that low humidity environment. No repacking will be as good as the original package, but it's best to open it once, weigh and repackage into individual doses; instead of opening the original package each time you make cheese.

As @rumtscho mentioned, you can get limited range, high-precision (0.01 gram) scales pretty cheaply. You can also buy tiny ziplock bags that work well for this.

You may want to find this section in Mary Karlin's book -- there are some pictures. I'll look it up when I get home.

  • Weird, I did not see that... must have slipped through there is lots of info :) – nico Jul 28 '14 at 20:11
  • Yeah, there's a lot of information in that book and in some ways it's hard to navigate. – SamBobb Jul 28 '14 at 20:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.