Author Topic: Storing Brine  (Read 142 times)

Offline Ananke

  • Medium Cheese
  • ***
  • Location: Glasgow, Scotland
  • Posts: 58
  • Cheeses: 5
  • Default personal text
    • Allotment Heaven
Storing Brine
« on: June 13, 2017, 07:21:37 AM »
Do I have to do anything with the brine after I've used it and before storing it in the fridge, like straining it etc?

Just looked out my old brine that was stored in a cool outbuilding type place and it was rank.  Having read a thread on here, I realise I should have kept it in the fridge. 
The years have been kind to me, it's the weekends that done the damage.

Offline awakephd

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Posts: 1,940
  • Cheeses: 188
  • compounding the benefits of a free press
Re: Storing Brine
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 09:27:45 AM »
Ananke, there have been numerous discussions about storing brine; opinions vary from refrigeration to just storing in a cool place. I have successfully done the latter for up to a year ... but eventually it does seem to get rather suspicious looking. :(

In general, I have strained it through a coffee filter after each use, and boiled it (and perhaps also strained it again) before use. That of course requires some planning to be sure the brine is cool enough for use by the time it is needed, which I confess I have not always done.

So I have found myself turning instead to direct salting, due to not having usable brine (either because too hot or too funky) when I need it. And I've found that I like this approach better than messing with brine, so lately I've been using it routinely in place of brining. Honestly, I'm not sure how to compare the results, since I haven't done a side-by-side test, but in general I would say the results are similar at the least, and maybe even identical. And there is one advantage - not having  to be so tied to the clock to get the cheese out of the brine at just the right time.
-- Andy

Offline Ananke

  • Medium Cheese
  • ***
  • Location: Glasgow, Scotland
  • Posts: 58
  • Cheeses: 5
  • Default personal text
    • Allotment Heaven
Re: Storing Brine
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 10:46:22 AM »
Thanks so much Awakephd, your reply was really helpful.

Just checking...by direct salting you mean adding a measured amount of salt to the curds before pressing, like you would a cheddar?

I've only ever brined twice before and it's a job I'd happily give up if there is another method I could choose, plus I've never really understood why some cheeses have salt added and others are brined  *Must do more reading*
The years have been kind to me, it's the weekends that done the damage.

Offline awakephd

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Posts: 1,940
  • Cheeses: 188
  • compounding the benefits of a free press
Re: Storing Brine
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 11:44:39 AM »
Well, adding to curds before pressing certainly is a direct method of salting :) - but no, I was referring to putting salt on the surface of a cheese after it has been pressed and removed from the mold.

Generally I put about 1/4 of the salt on the top of the cheese and put it in the cave or refrigerator to cool - this will help to slow further development of acid while the salt works its way in. Then around 12 hours later - i.e., that evening if I started in the morning, or the next morning if I started in the evening - I flip it over and put 1/4 of the salt on the other side. Note that, especially if you are using kosher salt (which I find works better than finer salt for this purpose), there will still be salt crystals visible on the surface; I flip the cheese carefully to retain and "trap" those crystals on what is now the bottom, and add the new salt to what is now the top. Continue this twice more. (When I flip it over the second time, the salt crystals that were on the bottom have disappeared/been absorbed.) This will draw out some whey as the salt works its way in, so you get a little bit of a mini-brine working on the bottom of the cheese at the same time. (Use a tray or a plate that has enough of a "lip" to it to contain this "brine.") After the final salting, I generally flip one more time, wait another 12 hours - this lets the salt crystals that were left on top join the developed brine to continue to work - and then dry it off and move it to the cave.

Note that you can also start out with salt on both sides - use 1/4 of the salt on top, place your tray or plate on top and hold the cheese and plate together as you flip it over - now that salt is trapped on the bottom, and you can add 1/4 of the salt to what is now the top. Note also that with the direct salting method, "12 hours" is very flexible - part of the appeal of doing it this way vs. brining, where an hour or two can make a big difference!

It may require a bit of experimentation to get the right amount of salt to use when doing it this way, but as a rough rule of thumb, I find that 3 Tbs of kosher salt is a good amount to use with a ~4 gallon make -- depending, of course, on what the final goal/type of cheese is. (For example, I use only about half that much with a swiss make.) You can certainly weigh the cheese and weigh the salt to calculate a target percentage, but you have to keep in mind that not all the salt will be absorbed; some of it will be lost in the "mini-brine" that develops. I generally just work by Tbs. or tsp. measurements, with past experience as a guide.
-- Andy