Author Topic: Hi from windy Cape Town  (Read 120 times)

Offline Lauravdm

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Hi from windy Cape Town
« on: September 15, 2017, 07:18:33 AM »
Hey all...
My Family and I have have decided to try out cheese making, and I am finding it a little confusing, especially with the culture story.
Here is Cape Town we have a few available shops where we can buy ingredients, but I am so lost.
I accidentally bought Thermo/meso culture mix thinking that they were in separate packets, but they were mixed together :o
Now I am completely stuck as I have no cultures and am so aggravated I am slowly loosing my patients.
Soooooo now I am stuck with unwanted culture... From what I understand Mesophylic is for mostly soft cheeses, and the thermophylic for hard cheeses?

We made paneer, so where do I go from here as I have all the other ingredients other than cultures.

Offline awakephd

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Re: Hi from windy Cape Town
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2017, 11:53:43 AM »
Welcome to the forum!

Let me start with some quick and good news: the culture mix you have is perfectly fine to use for a wide variety of cheeses. Depending on the proportions of meso to thermo, the mix may or may not work as well for some of the Italian/Swiss types of cheese, but it would be a very good choice for cheddar, Gouda, "baby swiss," blue cheeses, and many others. You could even use it for camembert/brie. Both cultures are naturally present in raw milk, so if you are using raw milk, even if you add a meso culture to make sure it dominates, you will also have some thermo, and vice versa.

Now for the lengthy explanation:

While there might be some truth to the distinction you have made between meso and thermo cultures, it is really not a reliable rule. Mesophilic cultures do tend to be used for many softer cheeses, including camembert/brie, but they are also used for hard cheeses such as cheddar and semi-hard such as Gouda. Meanwhile, thermophilic cultures are used for the harder Italian/Swiss types of cheese, including Parmesans, but thermo is also the culture that is typically used to make mozzarella - a very soft cheese. And sometimes people use thermo to make camembert/brie for a slower-ripening product.

Both cultures will thrive in the 90-100°F (32-38°C) range that is typically used to ripen the milk before adding rennet. After the curd is set and cut into cubes, more heat may be added, depending on the type of cheese desired; mesophilic can survive up to 105°F (40-41°C), but above that temperature, it will start to die. Thermophilic can survive up to 120°F (49°C) or higher.

How hard the cheese is depends on a number of factors, but especially important is the amount of fat and moisture in the curd. Moisture is controlled primarily by four factors: the length of time the cheese is allowed to coagulate (after adding rennet); the size of cubes into which the curds are cut after coagulation; the amount of cooking of the curds after cutting; the amount of stirring of the curds after cutting. The fact that thermophilic cultures can withstand higher heat, which translates to a drier curd, is what leads to the connection between thermophilic culture and hard cheese - but really it is not so much the culture as it is the way the curd is processed.

In one sense, both cultures do the same thing: they consume the lactose in the milk and convert it to lactic acid. The acidity, along with drying and salting, is part of what helps to preserve cheese; the pH level at different stages of the process also has a significant effect on the resulting texture - lower pH (higher acidity) at draining, for example, will remove some of the calcium, changing the strength of the chemical bonds in the cheese.

n my experience - not an expert by any means, but an experienced amateur (I've made about 100 cheeses) - I would say that, all else being equal (i.e., same amount of moisture, fat, and pH level), the mesophilic cultures are more likely to give a crumbly result, and the thermos more likely to give a smooth and flexible result; mesophilic is more likely to give buttery / cheddary flavors, and thermophilic is more likely to give nutty flavors. But again, so much depends not just on the culture, but on the process!

A marvelous book that helps to explain the processes at work is Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking by Gianaclis Caldwell - highly recommended. It gives a solid understanding of the underlying processes without getting too technical.

The other marvelous resource is this forum - we are always glad to offer recipe ideas, help diagnose problems, commiserate over setbacks, and celebrate success!
-- Andy

Offline Fritz

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Re: Hi from windy Cape Town
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2017, 08:12:18 PM »
Hi Lauravdm !... and welcome to the forum, and the wonderful world of cheese making!

Please add below to Andy's wall of great advice about cultures...

First off.. don't get frustrated or feel sorry for yourself... cheese-making is truly something you grow into, and the learning curve may be steep at times. You will make mistakes and you will have unplanned results... some edible... some not. lol
Best advice I can give you is: learn, read, make, learn, laugh, read, learn, have a glass of wine, make, taste, enjoy. (not in that particular order...lol)
There are some good books out there that are worth their price because you will be referring to them often. They are full of theory, process, best practice and recipes for all kinds of cheeses. If you are serious about mastering the simple, yet complex, milk-to-cheese magic... get a couple of good books.. Many threads here about what are good cheese-making books... there are a few good free cheese-making ebooks out there .. Seek, and you shall be rewarded.
Take the time and make the effort to find the best cheese-making milk possible within driving distance... assuming you actually do drive..lol
Lastly ... you have the best resource right here...the cheeseforum.org ... a very respectful and helpful group of awesome people who love to share their cheese-making wisdom. post and share your journey.. you will be among friends...there are no silly questions here, so feel free to ask away :)

More specifically to your post... here is a pdf http://www.artisancheesemakingathome.com/pdfs/cultures.pdf of many cheese cultures, handy for reference as you traverse from cheese to cheese, culture to culture.
your thermo-meso mix will come in handy some day .. keep your cheese cultures in the freezer and they should last for at least a good year after expiry date. So they won't go wasted. You will probably eventually be collecting and using no less that 10 different cultures and other starter ingredients to make a wide variety of cheeses, so get used to having more than one around... much like baking, you can't make everything from one type of flour.

Good luck, hope this helps, have fun...
Fritz


Offline Lauravdm

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Re: Hi from windy Cape Town
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2017, 07:16:05 AM »
Thank you both so much for the info... I think those are the most concrete answers I've had all this time.
Our supplier doesn't seem to actually specify the strains... But I will look into that further... I have printed this so that I can keep rereading it, lol

Thank you again

Offline awakephd

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Re: Hi from windy Cape Town
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2017, 07:35:41 PM »
You are welcome! Let us know what kind of cheese you plan to make, and we'll be glad to help!
-- Andy

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Hi from windy Cape Town
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 10:30:51 AM »
Hi Lauravdm :)

Welcome to the forum! I could not answer you like Andy and Fritz, that's for darn sure! :) But I wanted to say I relate to your frustrations as a new cheese maker.  But please keep it up, once you start getting the hang of things, it's a lot of fun and very rewarding! Every time I have a question, I post it here and I always get good advice!!

Rain