Author Topic: Brine Maintenance  (Read 514 times)

Offline Mike Richards

  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: colorado springs, co
  • Posts: 446
  • Cheeses: 19
Brine Maintenance
« on: September 12, 2013, 10:46:22 PM »
I've got a, for me, large thing of brine (about 3 1/2 gallons).  I've just boiled it.  I know some people don't boil theirs, but I once found nasty stuff growing on top of my brine and now I'm hesitant to trust the high salt content to kill everything.  My question is, does boiling the brine affect the calcium ion concentration of the brine?  I put CaCl in the brine when I first made it.  Do I need to add more now after boiling it?  I'll check the pH, but should I expect it to have changed after boiling, too?  I added vinegar to get the brine pH down.  Any other tips on brine maintenance?  I keep it in the cave around 55F.
If only I could make cheese as well as I grow a mustache...


Guests, join the CheeseForum.org community to remove this ad.


Offline Kirkbybil

  • Medium Cheese
  • ***
  • Location: Harrogate, England
  • Posts: 74
  • Cheeses: 9
  • Default personal text
Re: Brine Maintenance
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2013, 03:36:10 PM »
I'm no expert but from the books I have read, they all say that you should boil the brine after each use and then filter it.  After  I've boiled mine there is like scum floating on top which I skim off and then filter through some kitchen paper and it's good as new. You are also supposed to add more salt to replace what has been absorbed by the cheese by slowly adding more as it boils until no more dissolves. The books also say that you don't need to add more CaCl after the initial make.

I don't know about ph or the chemistry but I hope that helps.


Offline Mike Richards

  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: colorado springs, co
  • Posts: 446
  • Cheeses: 19
Re: Brine Maintenance
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2013, 04:22:18 PM »
Thanks--I haven't added any more CaCl.  The surface of the cheeses coming out of the brine has not been slimy, so it seems I don't need to add any.  I did check the pH and it didn't seem to have changed much, either.
If only I could make cheese as well as I grow a mustache...

Offline WovenMeadows

  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: Saranac, NY
  • Posts: 160
  • Cheeses: 5
  • Default personal text
Re: Brine Maintenance
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2013, 06:51:31 PM »
Don't see why boiling would effect anything other than any live organisms in the brine. CaCl is just dissolved salts, can't go anywhere or turn into anything else. I recently attended a workshop where a cheesemaker from a small cheese factory spoke. They save their brine forever, and heat it (not quite boiling, like 170-something, aka pastuerizing) every few months. I would always sprinkle salt on the top surface of my cheeses brining, until I realized I had 1-2 inches of salt crystals settled on the bottom. As long as there is some crystal salt, the brine is essentially saturated. Over time, it is also becoming more an more closely matched in composition to the cheeses (Calcium and mineral content, etc), for the better.

Offline Spellogue

  • Michael
  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: Ohio
  • Posts: 303
  • Cheeses: 14
  • Default personal text
Re: Brine Maintenance
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2013, 10:46:21 PM »
I've taken to making up a saturated whey brine at the beginning of each annual cheesemaking season and using it from spring through late fall.  The only thing I add is a sprinkling of salt from time to time.  I haven't resorted to boiling it.  I'll admit that I rarely, if ever, filter it.  There are often little bits of curd swimming about in it by midway through my cheese-ing season. I haven't yet run into problems with this method.

 I still haven't discarded this year's brine.  I'm thinking of using it through the winter if I can find the milk and time to make a few batches in the months to come.  If it doesn't go "off" by spring I'll consider using it next season too, unless folks here might advise me that is unwise.

I have been using a separate brine for blues to prevent cross contamination, but I'm not certain hat is even a necessary precaution to take.  Would boiling be required to prevent a cross contamination of blue?
I can resist anything but temptation.      ~ Oscar Wilde


Guests, join the CheeseForum.org community to remove this ad.


Offline Mike Richards

  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: colorado springs, co
  • Posts: 446
  • Cheeses: 19
Re: Brine Maintenance
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2013, 11:00:08 PM »
I believe I've read of places that don't do anything with their brine--just add more salt and water as necessary.  I'm not quite brave enough to do that, though.  What would make you feel like your brine were "off"?

I'm not sure if the blue mold could survive a saturated brine.  You could do a little experiment...
If only I could make cheese as well as I grow a mustache...

Offline steffb503

  • Catskill Mts, NY State, USA
  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Posts: 493
  • Cheeses: 9
    • M & S Farm
Re: Brine Maintenance
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2013, 05:22:43 AM »
I also keep my brine for the season. I do add salt if needed. I taste the brine. I can determine the salt content very well that way.
I keep it in a bucket about 3-4 gallons worth at 50 degrees.

Offline Spellogue

  • Michael
  • Mature Cheese
  • ****
  • Location: Ohio
  • Posts: 303
  • Cheeses: 14
  • Default personal text
Re: Brine Maintenance
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2013, 03:25:09 PM »
I believe I've read of places that don't do anything with their brine--just add more salt and water as necessary.  I'm not quite brave enough to do that, though.  What would make you feel like your brine were "off"?

I'm not sure if the blue mold could survive a saturated brine.  You could do a little experiment...

I've never had a brine go "off," but I suppose I'd recognize it if I saw it.  My concern was only slightly heightened because I use a whey brine rather than a water brine.  I agree though, that there is very little chance of anything living in a saturated brine, and in that sense I don't see much point in boiling one.  If one were to use a brine of a much lower salinity, boiling it on occasion might be prudent.  I used to use 18% brine and never had it go bad on me.  Only reason I switched to saturated is that it is easier to maintain.
I can resist anything but temptation.      ~ Oscar Wilde