Author Topic: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay  (Read 18494 times)

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« on: October 21, 2010, 10:39:38 PM »
There has been plenty of discussion on the Forum about Mother Cultures, but I thought that I would share a little photo essay about how I make mine. Unlike a true Mother Culture, I do fresh innoculations (called a Primer Culture) every time I make a batch to avoid contamination and mutations. This also helps retain the species balance of the original dry culture. Once you have tried this, you will never go back to measuring dry culture.

1- Use low fat or skim milk. I do mine in 4 half gallon batches.
2- 4 bottles fits perfectly in a 10 gallon stockpot.
3- I heat on an induction cooker. Really amazing device
4- I heat to 200-210F and hold for 30 minutes. Note my hand on the induction cooking surface. There is NO residual heat. Very cool.
5- Cooling down. Thermo to 110F and Meso to 90. Notice I put my thermometer probe under the milk bottle to monitor temperature drop. Do not open the milk and risk contamination.
6- Everything gets labeled.
7- Dry cultures ready for inocculation. I keep mine in Nalgene bottles.
8- Adding culture. Just 1/32 teaspoon is plenty. The more you add, the faster it will be ready. Why hurry? I use small doses and just wait 16-24 hours.
9- Meso gets incubated at warm room temperature. Thermo goes back into a 110F water bath.
10- A thermal wrap retains heat as well as an insulated cooler. This is a great setup for yogurt too.
11- After 16 hours or so, pour out a little and test the pH. I shoot for a pH of 4.2 to 4.5 for Meso. This one needs to sit just a little longer.
12- Thermo should be 4.0 to 4.2. This one’s perfect.

Refrigerate and use within a week. Or freeze for use later.

And finally here is a handy little chart and a spreadsheet to calculate how much Mother Culture to use.

Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 11:29:25 PM by Sailor Con Queso »
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Offline Ken

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2010, 10:56:12 PM »
Thanks Sailor, I do a similar thing, albeit on a much smaller scale and use an electric yoghurt maker as the incubator. also very nice induction cooker.

Offline Quebec_Poutine

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2010, 02:27:28 AM »
He great jobs, i really need this kind of induction plate, can i ask you were you get that and the price,coz im in the Philippine and will try to get here but not sure i think will have to order by internet, may i ask if the mesophilic culture can survive more then 1 week only in the refrigerator. coz i notice a few time when my re cultured culture is older then 2 week sometime my cheese is not curdling.

Thanks
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Offline Susan

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2010, 07:28:22 AM »
Sailor, this is a fantastic 'tutorial'.  Especially for us newbies.  Thank you for posting this.  About your induction cooktop.   I see several on amazon and they have several temp setting.  But for all that I could find the lowest setting was 140.  Does yours have a lower setting or you just work with that?  Thanks.
Susan

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2010, 09:15:42 AM »
The induction cookers are amazing. Boils water about 3 times faster than even gas. EBay is loaded with them, some as low as $69.95. Wattage is important. Mine goes up to 1800w, the most that you will see unless you go to 220 volts. There are some manual units that you have infinite control on. You can also drop the wattage down and heat slower. But you are right, most of the automatic settings bottom out at 140F for some strange reason. That's perfect for prepping water for a washed curd cheese, but too high for yogurt or mother cultures. So I just heat mine to about 115F, cut it off, and wrap it in a triple layer thermo blanket (shown above). I usually start my cultures late afternoon, and by the next morning, it is still holding at 100F or a little more. Yogurt is usually ready overnight, but since I'm shooting for 24 hours on the primer cultures, I just heat the water bath back up to 110F (really quick with induction) and let it sit a few more hours. At 16 hours I test the pH to see how things are progressing.

The induction cooker produces NO HEAT, but uses magnetism to heat the entire pot. So the pot itself becomes the heating element. Aluminum or glass pots or pans do not work with induction. It uses much less electricity and it doesn't heat up the kitchen. VERY fast and you can NOT scald milk or burn chocolate. When making Mozz, yogurt, or Primer Cultures, I set it on 180F and just walk away for awhile. It has a 210F setting that keeps things just at boiling without actually boiling over. (How many times have we all done THAT on the stove). And when you cut it off, it instantly stops heating with no residual heat. So it's an excellent way to make cheese. Very cool technology. I know some high end restaurants that do all of their cooking by induction. On a professional level, since there is no direct heat, induction cookers can't catch on fire and do not require expensive hoods. I am putting in several workstations for cheesemaking classes, so this was a very important consideration. With traditional heating plates, my fire marshal would have required a huge hood vented to the outside that would have cost over $15,000. If I were still making cheese at home, I would be doing everything on induction.
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Offline TroyG

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2010, 12:56:23 PM »
I have been chatting a little with Pav about doing this, but I am still struggling with the need. Right now I use all direct set cultures and I weigh them on a gram scale. Now 80% of my batches of cheese are greater than 15 gallons with many being 22 gallons. Seems like I would be making lots of mother culture in order to make my cheese.

So what benefits do you think I would get out of using mother cultures?
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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2010, 01:56:17 PM »
Very nice and informative essay Sailor. Love the cooker! I may have to look into that could be a very handy gadget thanks.

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2010, 02:53:27 PM »
MUCH cheaper - a fraction of the cost of DVI
Better accuracy with bacterial population targets.
No concerns about old or inactive dry culture.
Very little time before rennet. Maybe 15 minutes instead of an hour.
Better acidity at rennet makes for a better curd set. I am getting much stronger curds.
Faster acidification and better pH curves throughout the make.
Efficiency translates into less time. I've cut at least an hour to 1-1/2 hours off of all of my cheeses.
Faster make is very noticable with cheddar types. You really need to watch the pH.
I honestly feel this makes a better quality cheese.

22 gallons would only translate to 42 ounces of Mother Culture. A 4 bottle batch like I make would last you over a week if you were making every day. Really quick and easy to do. Just have to plan ahead.

Here is a chart and dosage calculator in case you missed it above.

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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2010, 03:25:28 PM »
Just to add a thought, I feel that old world traditions and approaches to making cheese made for better cheese. One of those approaches was to combine evening and morning milk. There was no such thing really as a storage tank, and you couldn't make cheese twice a day most of the time, so you would make it every day in the morning after combining the milks. But, that evening milk sat for 6-12 hours, subject to bacterial action. So it would be pre-acidified naturally and have natural bacterial populations. In my milking, if I leave milk in the cellar at 55-60 from the evening milking, the pH is usually .1-.3 lower (from 6.45 to 6.3 most of the time, goat milk, different for cow). When you add this preacidified milk, what you got were huge colonies of bacteria right away, and some of the protein (casein) had solubilized.

This traditional approach is completely abandoned with the idea of DVI. With DVI, you have a "preripening" stage where you let the bacteria wake up. And the theory is that with that wait, you start at the same theoretical point as using either overnight milk of mother culture. But it's not the case for a few reasons. One, modern culture strains are selected for speed, to acidify quickly. Think about some of our favorite oldest cheeses. Stilton, roquefort, ossau iraty, tommes, etc. They were not cooked for the most part, or cooked just a little to 95-100, and used slow cultures. Modern practices push that to 103-104F, to decrease make times, and use fast cultures. But the cheeses are not as good.  Two, when you add DVI bacteria, you are adding the same number, in theory, but they are at a different stage than live and active bacteria. So even though the number of bacteria may be the same, and the pre-ripening takes care of waking them up, the pH curve is still way different. It's just not the same.

Modern science has tried to reintroduce the physics behind this preacidification by manipulating the milk. One common example is by bubbling Co2 through the milk to bring the pH down to 6.5 (most often used rennet point for cow cheese). Another is by using a small amount (.2%) of FD or MM or similar culture, and then re-pasteurizing. And another is by using glucono-delta-lactone to preacidify, or a harsher acid like lactic, citric, acetic, or formic. And it's all with the idea of achieving this pH drop before going into the make.

For people making cheese regularly, DVI mothers are a brilliant approach.

Troy, the point is just that, that you don't need to maintain starters. You don't need to do the old method of re-inoculating each batch and fighting changes in the culture mix and all that kind of stuff. Simply, create a workflow and one day before each make, figure out the amount of starter you need, boil the skim milk, cool inoculate with a small amount of the starter culture, and let it go. It's basically exactly like making yogurt. It does take a little bit of planning, and some equipment, and a dedicated space, but it's like milking. Once you have it all set up, you can milk 8 does at a time by yourself pretty easily.

Thanks for doing this, Sailor. I have a draft done from a few months ago on different rotation options used in the industry to maintain starters, but, of course, no time to finish completely right now.
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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2010, 08:37:33 PM »
You're welcome LB.

In short a primer culture produces a significantly more predictable pH drop at a really critical time during the make process. Adding dry culture and waiting "X" minutes is just far too inaccurate. It is NOT about the time for ripening, it is about the bacterial activity, the pH drop, and setting the stage for the rennet to do it's job. If you have an old culture or one that has weak activity what do you do, increase the amount of starter? Too much and you get acidic bitter cheese. Increase the ripening time? Over do it and you get the same acidic cheese. Way too variable to get consistent results.

We use the flocculation method to standardize rennet action and curd set. Using a primer culture produces the same sort of standardized predictability with starter bacteria.
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Offline Nitai

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2010, 05:59:21 PM »
That induction cooker is like the coolest thing I have ever seen. Unfortunately won't work for the solar system, but still... that is too cool. My mind is reeling with the possibilities. Burfi (condensed milk fudge) without the need to stir constantly to avoid burning! Whoa!

Offline jakobs

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2011, 03:52:05 PM »
The percentages in the dosage table (1%, 1.5% & 2%), are they the fat percentage of the milk used in the Primer Culture?

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   Jakob S.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2011, 04:44:57 PM »
No, weight/volume. It's to account for variation in cheese recipes. Some need 1%, some 1.5%, some 2.0%, etc.

You always use skim milk, milk powder, or whey powder. No fat.
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Offline jakobs

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2011, 05:28:12 PM »
um... now Im confused.
Are you literally talking about "weight divided by volume"?

I have not seen this in any of the recipes here.


Offline linuxboy

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2011, 05:54:53 PM »
Yes, for example, if you have a gallon of milk, it is 128 fl ounces. You need 1.28 fl ounces of starter for a 1% inoculation rate.

I have included this in some recipes when I specify bulk equivalent. This is the way cheese was made before DVI starters. I've also posted general guidelines before, like starting with 1.5% and have suggested that people customize the inoculation rate to fit their make requirements. You can make most cheeses with anywhere between .5% and 2.5%, depending on the rest of the recipe.
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