Author Topic: Making my starter for the season  (Read 968 times)

Offline Alpkäserei

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Making my starter for the season
« on: April 09, 2014, 05:55:34 PM »
This evening, I started the production of my starter culture for this season. On Friday I aim to make either a Mutschli or a Raclette with this culture, which takes 2 days to produce.

The concept of this culture is, I am isolating native bacteria out of raw milk in order to make cheese in the future. There are two basic ways to do this, using the 1-day or the two day method.
I am using the two day method, where a quantity of milk is prepared and incubated, then used to culture a second-round of milk which will be used to culture the cheese produced on the third day.
The one day method just places the product of the first day of preparation directly into the vat to make cheese.
The two day culture is stronger and more diverse,
the one day culture is safer because there is less opportunity for the culture to get infected or contaminated.

This time of year, 2-day cultures are pretty safe.

The process I used is, (all temps. are Celsius)
take 1 quart of raw, uncooled milk. I got mine straight from the cow and made it immediately into culture.
This milk was flash heated to 61 degrees
then IMMEDIATELY flash cooled to 42 degrees.
I allowed the milk to rest for about 2 or 3 minutes, then repeated the process.
This was done a total of 3 times, BUT
on the last round I heated up only to 55 degrees and cooled down to 40 degrees.
Now the culture is incubating in a thermos.

The theory is, this treatment will isolate streptococci pretty well, giving me a good lactic acid starter.

Tomorrow, I will start the second round. The second round will serve to diversify the culture, and get some lactobacilli into the mix. This is accomplished by not treating the milk as thoroughly.
In fact I will actually make two batches, in one I will inoculate milk that has only been heated to incubation temps. In the other, I will inoculate milk that has been heat treated once.
Doing this, I will have one batch that has a diverse flora and let it set, and I will have another that gives the streptococci a chance to get stronger. I want these to be my strongest strain after all.

On the third day, the two batches will be recombined, and a certain amount will be added to some milk perhaps an hour before I start making my cheese.
I will make probably a 20 gallon batch, for this I will use 1 pint of the finished, mingled culture.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser


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Offline H-K-J

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2014, 07:44:13 PM »
one of these day's I will understand all of what I just read :-\
I will just have to remember where I read it 8)
AC2U for your lessons in this area of expertise
I love this stuff!!!!
« Last Edit: April 09, 2014, 07:50:40 PM by H-K-J »
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Offline hoeklijn

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2014, 09:41:29 AM »
Also a cheese from this side! I certainly want to try this once myself since I've access to raw milk, right from the cow.
- Herman -

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2014, 10:59:01 AM »
I changed my approach for day 2 slightly,

I took the culture out and tested it at about 11:00 this morning (having started it 6:30 last night)
Then combined the 1 qt of culture with 2 qt raw milk

Then I flashed the whole mess up to 60 and back down to 48
notice here it is at 48, not 40. This like, 114 F or so.
This is more in the range of what will get Lactobacilli to grow, but also strep will grow in this range.
I am going to allow this all to ripen for a few hours, then later this afternoon I will separate it into 2 batches.

First I will flash up to 60
then back down to 48
then I will take of 1 qt and set it aside to incubate, this time going for about 24 hours

Then flash back to 60, down to 42. This time 42, because my bacteria doesn't seem to be quite on track yet.
Then I set out a quart of that to incubate, again for abut 24 hours.

The first part will favor lactobacilli. The hope here is that I can get a good portion of LB to grow
The second part will favor streptococcus. The hope here is that I will get my strep kicked into gear and ready to go.

The two will be blended back together tomorrow immediately before use. The exact proportions depending on the acidity of the final product.

I use titration to test acidity, or percent of lactic acid in the milk.
Today, my culture tested out at about 12.9 degrees SH, or .29% LA. So the acidity is very weak at this point.
I will use the culture once it falls into the range of 35 to 45 degrees SH, or about .79% - 1% LA.

The target for a culture produced from whey is around 28 degrees SH or about .63% LA.
We push the acidity higher when we start out, because the culture is not as viable at this stage.
After we have made cheese with it, it is much stronger.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2014, 11:01:26 AM »
For reference,

a TA as high as say, .17% could just be due to the natural acidity of raw milk, due to the proteins, etc.
Having achieved nearly .3%, I know I am growing bacteria.
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Offline Anonymous

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2014, 01:23:03 PM »
Oh wow! just, wow! A cheese for you indeed!

Quick question: is acidity level the only measurement you need to know the development stage ("strength" or "potency") of the culture? Would PH levels work or is tritration more accurate?

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2014, 01:50:57 PM »
Eric,

Alp is essentially making a Mother Culture and using specific temperature targets to naturally select for Streptococcus thermophilis and Lactococcus. Above 105F the mesos start dieing off.

With a MC, there is a fine line between optimum bacteria count and over-acidification, especially with thermos like Strep. Initially the bacteria produce acid, which coagulates the milk, sort of like yogurt. If using a pH meter, I shoot for around 5.0. However, if you just monitor the progress of the coagulation, the whey will start separating when the culture starts to over-acidify. You want to stop incubation just before this so the culture will be as robust as possible.

In Alp's case, the process is MUCH slower and deliberate than the way that I make MCs because of the low number of bacteria that are initially introduced from his raw milk. Milk is technically sterile, but native bacteria are picked up from the teats, etc during milking. Once he has his "starter" going for the season, he will transfer these bacteria from batch to batch as a perpetual source of starter bacteria.
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2014, 04:33:46 PM »
Thanks for pointing out the source of the bacteria. That's important, the bacteria is not  technically native 'to the milk' but to the environment. That's why clean practices are SO important...

Checked my culture at 5:15, pleasantly surprised to find it had noticeably thickened. Actually I was worried at first at had set overly fast, but when I stirred it back up the thicker top portion blended back in and it is still liquid.

Titration shows I am at about 16 SH (.36% LA) So I am about halfway to where I want to be.

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Offline Anonymous

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2014, 08:00:55 PM »
Thanks for the great info, Sailor!

This thread is opening my eyes to one day try and make a "self-sufficient" cheese project (with the help of a cow or goat of course ;) ) where I'd make my own vegetable rennet with nettles and thermo culture using this technique with raw milk.

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2014, 09:11:31 PM »
And here is the reason for the afternoon ripening...

When the milk is heat treated, having reached a certain level of acidity, the solids will actually solidify out of the milk much like making cheese

Actually I was very surprised by this batch, that the solids actually solidified almost like a rennet set cheese,
after heating the milk up, the curds could be cut and stirred

My target was to get whey for the purpose of producing a strong culture, and of course if you have whey you also have curd,

So I went ahead and strained the curd off after taking out 2 quarts of whey, and made a tiny little cheese out of it.

If I had just let the milk go, I would have wound up with yogurt, but having heated it up I forced the curd to contract and form a more solid curd.

Surprisingly, the whole formed into a mass much like a hard cheese, despite the lack of rennet.
I don't know what this will turn out like, the cheese is just a byproduct...
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser


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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2014, 11:46:37 AM »
Day 3,

culture is ready to be used, if I want to

Change of plans, I won't be making cheese today.

2 parts of cultures tested out at 41 and 32 degrees SH, they were blended back together at about 12:30 and have been marked and frozen for preservation.

They passed the acidity test,
and the taste taste
The culture tastes terrible. That is, it is very strong in the flavor of lactic acid.

Since I froze the culture, it will be used like a mother culture to restart a batch of live culture later on.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline Flound

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2014, 12:00:59 PM »
I'm in awe....

Tres cool.
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Offline Geo

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2014, 03:38:38 PM »
Fascinating.

A cheese to you Alp, for your approach. I'll watch with interest to see what the results of the cheese you make from this are.

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2014, 05:55:22 PM »
The byproduct cheese tastes pretty yeasty
I don't know anything about lactic cheeses, so I dont know why that would be the case

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Offline TimT

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Re: Making my starter for the season
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2014, 02:40:04 AM »
Herr Alp, this is incredibly cool, and I was just mentioning this possibility on another thread.

The cultures you get from this method: since they're wild, do they have a tendency to be stronger, long-lasting, possibly true heirloom cultures?

Since I have no real means for flash heating or snap cooling in my house, I suspect I'd have to vary your method if and/or when I tried doing this myself. Not sure whether you've had any experience capturing a wild culture this way - I suppose it would lift the risk of infection several points simply because less of the bacteria living in the milk would be knocked out - but I'd love to hear if you have any experiences with making wild culture this way :)

This year I'd be interested in trying a Gamalost recipe (http://home.centurytel.net/thechronicle/), which pretty much relies on a a similar principle - a milk that naturally curdles is left to age for months and months. Or, as some old Norse dude says: 'Take some cheese, stuff it in an old sock bury it in the manure.... and when it is ready it will crawl out'. This account is perhaps somewhat.... embellished. Nevertheless, it seems like an interesting challenge.