Author Topic: Making my starter for the season  (Read 873 times)

Online ArnaudForestier

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2014, 02:50:56 PM »
I've a question, relevant (I hope) here.  Many discussions I've re-read, now, discuss the lactobacilli-emphasis (over ST) of swiss gruyeres, its cousins, and in particular, Beaufort (one source saying, in terms of added culture, only helveticus is used).  This was news to me.  Your whey make crash heats up quite high, which is intended to isolate out ST, Alp - yet sources I've read indicate ST is preferentially incubated at 42C, while the lactobacilli thrive better at higher temps, 45C and up. 

Is it the case ST is simply less heat labile, so while it won't thrive at higher temps than the lactobacilli, it can withstand high heat like this for a short period, better than the lactobacilli? 

Secondly, if doing a make like we're talking about, after your crash heat/cool regimen to isolate out ST (presuming we're still on the same page that indeed, this part of the process does preferentially grow ST - lower range of 40-42), given the preponderance of the literature discussing the lactobacilli predominance, couldn't you add in a good store-bought yogurt  (Chobani seems great to me - S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei.  Used it last time and the whey starter was excellent), then wouldn't you incubate at 45C or higher, for the final round? 

The only other thing I wonder with this, is if 45C is too hot for the ST.  I seem to recall somewhere that given the lactobacilli prefer 45 and up, and ST prefers 40-42, that 42C is a good compromise to preserve a healthy, diverse thermophilic flora.  Is this the logic, Alp, for going 42C?
- Paul


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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2014, 03:48:36 PM »
Hoi,
that's a complicated question

Linuxboy is the right guy to answer that question, but he's on hiatus so I'll do my best

You are absolutely correct, the temp ranges for incubation favor ST. That's the point. ST can be tricky to get started, if left to spoil for example ST usually won't be what curdles milk.
Our goal is to target the native ST, and get it jump started and to develop a strain that is well adapted to the processes of cheesemaking.
What we want is to get ST for early acidification, so that our cheeses will reach their pH in the right time frame. Fortunately for an alpine make, acidification rates really aren't that important. We are going to remain above 6 the whole time during the make.

It was explained to me like this,
Lactobacilli are the most important flavoring element. IF you use pasteurized milk, you need to add a good deal of them. So tha's why when making gruyere, etc. you need to add a culture with a good LB strain in it (it actually doesn't matter which LB strain you use. Everybody think Helveticus is the right strain for Alpines, but guess what in Switzerland they use Delbrueckii. They all behave similarly, close enough for our purposes, and produce the same byproducts, ie. flavor.)
BUT if you use raw milk, it is full of natural LB. In fact, Pav told me once you really don't even need to add any at all. I like to though, because I want to get as much LB flavor in there as possible. The Alp where I learned, we added yogurt to get stronger LB in the culture, and the flavor was more intensely nutty and spicier than other Alpkäse from nearby Alps, that's what I want.

But the thing we have to remember with bacteria growth and flavor is, if it is strong enough to beat out other bacteria it really doesnt matter how much you add. Bacterial rates at startup almost don't matter, all that matters here is that your bacteria are numerous and active enough to beat out any other competitors. That's why we add a starter instead of just letting the milk ripen for a couple of hours by itself. The rate of reproduction past the first few minutes depends almost none on how numerous they were to start (in an ideal environment, bacteria doubles its population every so many minutes, depending on strain) what matters more are conditions (the doubling rate is quicker at ideal temp ranges) food supply (again, they reproduce faster witth more food) and competition (competitors take away food, and may attack)
Remember a bacteria reproduces by dividing themselves, so that's why the population doubles.
So if you are following me here, timewise we are behind a very small amount if we started with half or even 1/4 as many bacteria in our cheese, because the cycle is pretty quick.

SO I guess the simple answer to your question is,
If you are using raw milk and passing down a whey culture, yu don't need to add LB from any outside source. But you still can, just keep in mind that the added LB will make your cheese sharper quicker (also, drier quicker, and potentially sour) Alpkäse is actually quite sour because of the strong LB growth, but you can hardly detect the sour over the salt and spiciness.
If you use processed milk, you need to add LB from some source. You can use yogurt, that's what we did on the Alp. That's the same reason why I cultured a second batch at a higher temperature.

Despite the high temps used in treating the milk, ST and LB both should have survived from your milk. They are both very heat tolerant bacteria with thick cell walls and good natural defense abilities. These two bacteria are the reason Alpine cheese works, where part of the process is to cook the curd up to a point where pathogens die, but these two workhorses survive.
So our culture actually has LB in it, but by incubating it just below LB's favored range, we ensure ST is stronger.

ST will grow at 45C. I make yogurt at that range some times. But LB will just grow a little faster.

The logic for incubating at 42 is so that ST gets stronger. We are really trying to wake up the ST to get our early acidification (that is, the first two days of the cheese's life) the LB has months to get going, we don't need to worry about it too much. 
 
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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2014, 04:09:16 PM »
Cool.  Yep, I think I get it, Alp.  I'd call my first attempt at your whey culture regimen a success, so I'll hold to it, for now - adding in good yogurt after the few rounds of ST isolation and incubation at 42C.  I think where I was going with the notion of edging a bit higher was after these ST rounds...so:

day 1, heat/cold crash x 3 and incubate at 42;
day 2, heat/crash once, once cooled to incubation temp add in yogurt and incubate at 45 or slightly higher.

-presuming ST is still quite strong, but now, LB is also optimally encouraged.  One issue I see, is that that same text discussing these whey starter temps, indicated 42C yields a much more diverse flora than 45C.  So especially if this is all just a starting point (no pun), and it's the repetitive process makes of the cheese that will set the flora and their ratios, I'm probably overthinking this.  42C is just fine, yes?

Interestingly - and I missed this from my first reading of the Polytech'Lille material - but not only is Beaufort higher in fat, higher in salt and lower in propionic than Comte and Emmental, but it's higher in lactic - by a huge margin:  12-16 g.kg^-1, over 4-6 for both Comte and Emmental.  It is, however, lower in acetic acid than either of the other two (not by much:  0.5-1 for Beaufort, 1-4 for Comte, 2.5-5 for Emmental).  I associate acetic acid with a definitively "sharper" character, so this mix of acid concentrations is quite interesting to me - particularly the almost outlier-like nature of Beaufort's lactic acid content.

Edit:  Whoops, just saw your amended Day 2 process.  I like the approach, I think this is what I was after, getting both a strong ST and LB by temp optima.  I was trying to do it it one culture, and I see you just split the culture, incubated each for ST and LB optima, and reblended.  I get it.  Thanks, Alp!
- Paul

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2014, 04:23:51 PM »
Yes,
and also since I heat treated partially acidified milk, I forced the solids out of it and essentially made a whey culture.
This is good, because a whey culture is easier to control, easier to store, and generally safer.
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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2014, 04:58:59 PM »
What makes the whey culture easier to control/store/safer than a "yogurt?"
- Paul


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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2014, 10:33:55 PM »
What makes the whey culture easier to control/store/safer than a "yogurt?"

<<Le bump>>.  Alp, I'd say, customers would be dying to know - but I'd prefer not killing them to find out, you know?  Can you indicate the reasoning on this, why a whey would be essentially better for these reasons than a yogurt?
- Paul

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2014, 07:25:08 AM »
Mostly because it is a  liquid, and it remains a liquid. It remains more or less homogeneous, and it is easy for bacteria and their byproducts to easily disperse throughout the whole.

Since milk gets thick, and separates out into two parts as the acidity increases, it can be a little more difficult to work with. Also with yogurt, I can't strain out the less desireable parts of the culture (some of the solids that precipitate out) that impact cheese quality.

Also when I do a two part culture, I can easily reblend the two parts because they are liquid.
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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2014, 04:40:25 PM »
OK, thanks.  I was just thinking of mother culture, as I used to do it, with Sailor's idea...if it dropped a bit low and I got some separation, I just agitated it and added that.  But I get what you're saying here. 

Still a bit unclear on the safety aspect, why a whey would be a better safeguard?
- Paul

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2014, 03:51:16 PM »
I'm loving this thread! Thanks. Can anyone suggest good reading material as background reading about the processes etc involved in making cultures from scratch?

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2014, 04:19:49 PM »
Paul, with what level of complexity in the content? It's basic biotech process in the end, but it can be very complicated if you want to be precise.
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Offline NimbinValley

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #25 on: May 22, 2014, 05:25:03 PM »
I have a science background so technical stuff is fine but I'm more interested in understanding basic processes and procedures.  A ' beginners guide' is fine to start.  I'm not so interested in the biochemistry level - something for an advanced practitioner maybe, if it exists. Thanks.