This is a great topic. I have been doing my own washed rind Tommes lately (See my thread for the petit-tomme experiments) and have been learning a lot but still missing info.
I make my brine with water (filtered, you don't want chlorine, it kills the bacteria you attempt to inoculate into the wash and gives it an off smell), salt (non-iodized! Iodine also kills bacteria. Kosher salt is great), CalCl to prevent depletion of CalCl from the cheese and then of course - the bacteria itself (B.Linen, Geo or PLA. See my note about KL71 below). I usually inoculate it into the water under the manufacturer's guidelines in room temp for several hours, but after first use I store the wash in the refrigerator.
There is a risk of contaminating the wash (especially apparent with raw milk) which can not only destroy the cheese but also make it unsafe to eat, so whenever I want to do a wash, I just pour some from the bottle I made into a little clean bowl and use it. This way nothing goes back into the bottle.
As a principle, I would never use Potassium Sorbate. The whole premise of making artisanal cheese is to go back to tradition and make something natural and unprocessed. Adding preservatives to it goes against all of that (but that's me). Frankly, I wouldn't care if a bit of blue shows up here or there. I smear the cheese with the solution anyway and it removed it. If it's big, I take it off with a knife. It doesn't spoil the cheese. (Far less harmless than Potassium Sorbate). There is also another issue with such ingredients: Preservatives are either meant to kill organisms or to create an environment that inhibits their growth. If this affects the blue mold, common sense would have it also affecting the B.Linen and Geo.
Lately, I have run out of B.Linen and began using a PLA culture that I originally purchase for Crottins. It has a yellow strain of B.Linen, Geo and a couple of other funky aromatic cultures. I have gotten really cool looking rinds from it and it developed fantastic grassy aroma in the cheeses.
So here are MY questions to add to yours:
- I have just ordered the KL71 yesterday and was going to ask about it here when I saw your thread. Apparently it's a Yeast that helps develop the B.Linen by changing the pH level of the surface. Has anyone here used it? Do you inoculate it into the milk or use it with the bacterial smear?
- Do you have a preferred type of B.Linen strain?
- I just ordered Mycodore (for Tomme de Savoie type gray rind). How do you guys prefer to use it? Same way?
I also am debating the many application methods out there: I apply every couple of days (less as the cheese matures) and I can't help wondering which method works better for what? Using a rag and and leave to dry? Or brushing? Or spray? (I don't have an atomizer but I can use a cheap spray bottle). Should one wipe it dry / leave a thin layer on a cheese, or leave lots of wash to dry and build thick layers over time? Which method protects the paste from drying out? Which method do you guys like best?