This Wiki Article discusses maintaining and regenerating brine for extended use, versus building a brine for a one time use then disposing. Other wiki brine articles are Wiki: Making Brine, Wiki: Brine Bathing Cheeses, and Wiki: Brine For Preserving Cheese.
If brines are maintained and re-used, they should have an appropriate % salt, be stored properly, and periodically be cleaned and rebuilt.
Older cheese makers say that you should not dispose of brine but rather just replenish the salt absorbed by the cheese. In today’s climate of higher hygiene, it is advisable to dispose and build a new brine solution periodically.
Re-used brines should be above 16% salt, the minimum for a hostile environment to bacteria. Brines below 16% will become contaminated with unwanted brine resistant bacteria.
- Store covered to avoid unwanted items falling in.
- Store at normal application temperature of -60°F/15.6°C or lower.
- Note, do not allow a smear of slime to develop on the sides of the bath above the water line, this will be fat and a habitat for bacterial growth.
- Skim the surface of the brine for bits of cheese shortly after each use with a very fine mesh tool such as a plastic swimming pool skimmer or small kitchen sieve.
- If cloudy, to clarify, periodically pour or pump used brine through paper towel or cheesecloth lined strainer/colander, toss paper towel, clean cheesecloth. You can also use this as an opportunity to clean the tank and surrounding area.
- If in poor shape, then boil the brine to kill off any brine resistant microorganisms such as Listeria.
Maintained brine’s % salt will decline with time as it is absorbed by the cheeses and thus should be replenished to the % salt required.
- For un-saturated brine, stir in additional non-iodized NaCl salt to bring you back to target % as measured by a salometer.
- For saturated brine, re-boil and stir in additional non-iodized NaCl salt until it no longer dissolves, cool to using temperature.
- Note, after using newly made brine, pH and calcium level should normally not need to be adjusted, assuming brine is used reasonably frequently.