Author Topic: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants  (Read 889 times)

Offline tedrogers

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Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« on: August 15, 2012, 09:51:25 AM »
Hi all,

Long time lover of cheese about to embark on my second attempt of making a batch, and I'm hoping to get some help.

I have 2.27 litres / 0.5 gallons of whole 4% fat milk, some mesophyllic starter pre-pre-prepared in ice cube trays in the freezer and no rennet. As a substitute for the rennet I'm going to try a tablespoon or two or lemon juice - worth a try I think.

But for the starter I have no idea how much to add. I originally got the starter from the link below (DP01 at the top of the page), but the instructions are vague at best. The recipe they provide seems to suggest adding the whole 1 litre of starter that is made up from the sachet, but I don't remember adding anywhere near this much last time, which worked well.

http://ascott-dairy.co.uk/acatalog/Cheese-Culture-and-Rennet.html

So, can anyone tell me how many cubes to add from the ice cube trays of frozen meso starter? 1 cube is about 2 tablespoons worth. I was going to stick in about half a trays worth, which would be about 10 - 12 tablespoons.

Would this be okay for 2.27 litres of milk? Is it a bad thing adding too much bacterial culture? If not, I'll just add extra rather than too little.

I'm hoping to attempt this batch of cheese tomorrow, so a timely response would be most welcome.

Thank you fellow cheese lovers! ;)







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Offline bbracken677

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 10:20:24 AM »
You made a mother culture with the meso culture and then froze that...is that correct?

For 1/2 gallon, you would add 1/4 tsp (depending on cheese?) of the dry frozen culture as you would buy it in the packs.

Once you have made the mother culture you have exited my area of partial knowledge lol.....just a guess tho I would say 1 or 2 cubes of the mother culture.

If you have a pH meter you could add just one cube and then monitor your milk/meso mix (at temp) for the pH drop before adding rennett.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 12:37:44 PM »
about 30 ml.
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Offline tedrogers

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 12:42:54 PM »
Yes I made a mother culture. Thanks for your advice on this...and now that you mention the 1/4 tsp for 1/2 gallon, that has jogged my memory...as last time I used over 2 gallons and added about 2-3 tsp. So on this basis your advice sounds right...just to add a couple of cubes.

I don't have a PH meter. Neither do I have rennet as I want to experiment with lemon juice this time.

I'm aiming to make a semi hard lemony Cheddar!

How much lemon juice do you think to make it seperate? I'm keeping the milk at 37 degrees as over this the Meso bacteria will be killed.

Thanking you.

Offline tedrogers

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 12:46:25 PM »
about 30 ml.

Great. More evidence for just 2 cubes. Brilliant! Thanks linuxboy 8)


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Offline tedrogers

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 07:41:10 AM »
Okay, so results so far are not too promising.

To my 2.27litres of milk I added 4 cubes of starter, which seemed like just over 30ml to me. Left if at 32 degrees for an hour. Then added my lemon juice...I added half a lemon which was about 30ml again. Kept it at 32 degrees for another hour and it did begin to seperate, but not much. So I tasted it and could barely taste any lemon, so I tried adding another half a lemon. Another hour later and still very few curds.

Have I added to much lemon? Have I killed the bacteria with acidity? Maybe I should have only added a very slight amount of lemon juice?

What are your thoughts peeps?

Thanks all.

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2012, 08:52:26 AM »
Adding lemon is not a substitute for using rennet. You can curdle milk with lemon juice, but it won't be remotely similar to a cheddar. IMHO you need to follow recipes exactly and learn the basics before you start experimenting. Really small batches of cheese, like 2.27 liters, is very unforgiving and very easy to overdose on starter, rennet, etc. 4 cubes is way too much.
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Offline tedrogers

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2012, 09:01:57 AM »
Yes I think I realise this now.

My first effort was with 9litres and used proper rennet, and I ended up with a brilliant cheddar cheese wheel.

I guess I got too cocky too soon, plus my instructions are a bit vague, forcing me to guess at lot. Worked the first time though...ahh well. Will get some rennet and try again.

Thanks.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2012, 11:31:06 AM »
There are very detailed threads here with discussions, pictures, and help, if you want better instructions :)
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Offline tedrogers

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2012, 02:47:16 PM »
Thanks I'll definitely check that out.


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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 04:31:09 PM »
If you can make 9 liter batches and have rennet - why would you want to try and substitute it?  I am in agreement with Sailor and Linuxboy. This won't work. The only thing I would attempt to do with such small amount of milk is maybe a lactic or semi lactic cheese, or spreadable cheese. Don't coagulate with lemon though. If you have no rennet and want to go the lactic/soft cheese route -just let the lactic culture do all the work. Eventually the lactic bacteria will convert enough lactose to lactic acid to naturally give is the same acidity of a lemon. It will curdle and then you can strain it in cheesecloth.  Lemon, vinegar or citric acid are sometimes used in quick cheese to replace the lactic starter, not the rennet.  Rennet gives you gel, flexibility, adhesion, and long term aging effects on flavor and texture. Acid-coagulation doesn't do that. Moreover it kills the lactic starters and destroys the defelopment and bacterial protection that the cheese has -which is why acid-coagulated cheeses are usually fresh cheeses that cannot be kept in the fridge for more than a week, let-alone age in a cave.

Offline tedrogers

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Re: Newbie Questions - Starter Culture & Coagulants
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 05:12:58 PM »
Thanks for the detailed response. I learned a lot from this little adventure.

I bought some more rennet and it arrived in the post today, so I went for it again with a gallon on milk.

Apart from the curds taking 3.5 hours to develop (with 5 drops of rennet and 30ml of starter) it went pretty smoothly and I have a large hunk of cheese pressing at the moment.

Last time I over salted, which did keep bad bacteria down to a minimum but made the cheese rather feta-ish....this time I salted less and added crushed peppercorns, so hoping for a peppercorn cheddar in a few months (after it's aged in wax).

Incidentaly, is there any reason to buy expensive cheese wax? Last time I melted white non-scented domestic candles, and added vegetable oil so that the hardened wax was more flexible...seemed to work well enough and didn't taint the cheese.

Thanks all.