Author Topic: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay  (Read 15253 times)

Online ArnaudForestier

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2011, 06:02:08 AM »
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.


Following this with fascination, as usual.  Much like getting a yeast slurry in brewing so that by pitch time there's very little lag (not only ensuring a robust fermentation, but a safer one, as the batch yeast cultures effectively starve off any hope of undesired beasties), this makes great sense. 

The only niggling point - and I know this falls below any sensory threshold, so it truly is niggling - is the "adulteration" of a desired milk with this mother culture, skim milk.  It was much the same for me, when I autoclaved quarts of unhopped, extract wort, as a starter medium for my 15 gallon batches of all-grain wort.  So much so, that I finally went the extra mile and made strictly all-grain batches of starter wort, the autoclaved them for later use. 

I guess I'm also influenced to some extent, reading through Jean-Claude Le Jaouen's book; his disdain for the use of both DVI and cow's milk starter seems apparent.

This peculiar hesitation aside, a wonderful solution, if producing regularly.  Thanks Sailor, and LB, as well.
- Paul


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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2011, 08:36:50 AM »
I'm with Jean-Claude philosophically, but also am practical. When you go to many farmstead producers now, real traditionalists, they'll have an old cave, old make equipment, may even make their own rennet, but when it comes time to culture, many will use DVI.

You can definitely use your own skim milk and propagate, and you can also use whole milk and thin the mix out before pouring it on. Don't have to use powder or whey media or anything like that. That would keep things unadulterated.
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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2011, 08:51:36 AM »
I'm with Jean-Claude philosophically, but also am practical. When you go to many farmstead producers now, real traditionalists, they'll have an old cave, old make equipment, may even make their own rennet, but when it comes time to culture, many will use DVI.

You can definitely use your own skim milk and propagate, and you can also use whole milk and thin the mix out before pouring it on. Don't have to use powder or whey media or anything like that. That would keep things unadulterated.


I hear you; all life is compromise, and it's just a choice along the continuum where we will choose to go.  In the past, I was almost insanely along the "purist" pole - and I'm not saying this hyperbolically, I literally meant it was a problem - so that I almost ran myself into the ground in pursuit of some notion of "perfection" (in my world, that meant doing literally everything in house, from the maintenance of 12 or so mother stocks, to all pastry, all charcuterie, and everything else, in a region where my beloved crew had never seen anything remotely like French cuisine, and had to be trained from the ground up.  I never did compromise, really, with the exception of buying puff pastry...with a skeleton crew of 3, and myself pulling 17-20 hour days, just one element too much for my garde manger to handle regularly. ). 

 I digress.  I also speak from the vantage point of one who buys his milk, at least until such time as I decide to truly learn, and to produce, or not.  In other words,



(I age myself).
- Paul

Offline janesmilk

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2011, 07:01:33 PM »
"You can definitely use your own skim milk and propagate, and you can also use whole milk and thin the mix out before pouring it on. Don't have to use powder or whey media or anything like that. That would keep things unadulterated."

If I were to use whole milk, how much would it need to be watered down before using? Is there a ratio for that? Could I make a 1 gallon mother and water it down to 2 gallons? And what would be the benefits or downfall of doing that instead of buying skim milk, which I would rather not do. I don't have a cream separator.

Thanks for this info, its great!

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2011, 10:41:37 PM »
You can make a Mother Culture from whole milk. The problem is that it will get really thick and difficult to pour. But still possible. Or as LB pointed out, just thin the whole milk starter with more milk just before you use it to make it easier to pour.

If you dilute the whole milk with water before making your starter, you reduce the milk fats but also the lactose that the bacteria need to feed on. So you would end up with fewer bacteria in the same volume of starter. Look at it taken to an extreme. Suppose you mixed 99% water and just 1% whole milk. Then there would be very little food (lactose) and much fewer bacteria once ripened.

If using diluted milk you would need to compensate and use more starter. This is difficult to quantify and would need to be done trial and error until you find what works for your situation.

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2011, 10:27:54 AM »
Sailor (or others) - based on my experience with the primer, and some comments by Francois, among others, I'm going to try for a slightly higher primer pH than I got last time, shooting for 5.0 at pitching into the vat.  One of the things I'm wondering is if you, or anyone else, knows the effective, continued activity, moving from the primer inoculation to the chilled primer, where activity is effectively slowed to a standstill?  In other words, presuming a 4.5 "warm" pH, then chilling - in the time it takes to chill the primer, LAB are still working, though increasingly at a slower rate.  Any data on the difference?  I plan on measuring, anyway, but if someone has a previous data point to give a loose guide, I'll use that to work from.

I'm seeking 5.0, and will chill at 5.2, as a starting point.  If this seems reasonable, great.
- Paul

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2011, 01:30:13 PM »
Sailor, thanks for a fantastic guide!

Sailor and LB - I always used DVI and was wondering about using mother cultures; how do you choose the % of culture to use for what cheese? (or, what is 1% dosage equivilant to in DVI dosage?).  Also, how long can you keep these? Do you freeze any of it?

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2011, 10:26:20 PM »
IRF - Mother cultures are totally alive and active, so IMHO there is not a practical direct correlation with a DVI. A Mother culture is much more consistent and predictable so you can't really think in DVI terms. Normal dosage is 1%-2% by weight. If you normally use lower doses of DVI, do the same with a Mother culture. Your make style, pH markers, etc. are all a part of the decision about how much MC to use.

I make MCs in batches of 4 and use it the same week. If your going to keep it more than a week, it's easy to freeze. Just remember to reduce the volume to make room for expansion.

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2011, 12:25:46 PM »
Thanks Sailor! I've been wanting to try it for a while so this will give me a good idea about conversion.  I just feel that since my batches of cheese are relatively small and place in my freezer is limited, it won't be so practical in the home setup but in production it sure will be!

Do you find them to be less effective when frozen-defrosted?  Do you defrost them or just dump frozen cubes into the cold milk and let it melt as the milk warms up? If so, do you time out acidification from when milk reaches your desired temp (as opposed to waiting for it to reach temp, put cultures in and start timing then)

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2011, 12:59:52 PM »
I do not do cubes, but 1/2 gallon batches. These could easily be done as pints or whatever so space shouldn't be the issue. IMHO the culture is not less effective when frozen - no different than DVI really. I almost always use fresh, but I would thaw prior to use. I do feel like I'm making much better cheese since I went to MCs. MUCH more consistent and predictable pH curves. Just add the MC and you can rennet within 5 to 10 minutes.
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Offline aram

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #25 on: May 28, 2011, 07:59:16 PM »
Hi all, this topic seems kinda old but it was very helpful as I'm completely new at this and seeing how hard it was for me to find the starters I opted to making a mother culture.

Anyway, I gave this a shot yesterday and the milk thickened and the pH registered at around 4.5. I did everything Sailor said however Link 1 & Link 2 suggest I use the entire package (which in my case is 10g) instead of the tiny amount suggested by Sailor.

So my question is: after letting it sit around 24 hours won't the amount of starter I'd have in each cube depend on the initial amount of starter I added?
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 08:13:34 PM by aram »

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #26 on: May 28, 2011, 09:08:45 PM »
If you start out with as sterile media as possible, the tiny pinch is enough for a small amount of medium. Commercially, the bulk rate is 5-10% starter into new medium when starting up a mother, in order to ensure a fast and vigorous initial growth. But those links are just guidelines based on a method that works. MANY other methods work as as well. I suggest if you have great aseptic handling to use less culture than those links suggest. And if it's questionable, then use more of a pure culture to ensure a fast growth, and then propagate forward.

When you use less culture, remember bacteria multiply every 15-20 minutes. So if you use 1/3 the amount and wait an hour, it's the same as using a huge amount. Problem is that during that hour, if you have other strains or bad bacteria, they multiply, too. Make sense? In the end, the amount does matter somewhat becausein industry, to help ensure consistency, we drastically over-inoculate.
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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #27 on: May 29, 2011, 01:04:15 PM »
Thanks linuxboy! So if I follow a recipe from Ricki Carroll's book, when it says to add 4 ounces prepared starter, I might be adding less starter cells because my mother had less to start with, correct? Or the opposite could be true too, depending on how long I let the cells multiply.

The only reason this is even an issue is because I'm afraid I will get inconsistent results based on the concentration of cells I have in my starter and any other mother cultures I propagate from these. However this still beats the alternative of having to pay 7$ every time I want to make a batch. Is there some kind of test that would ensure I have consistent amounts of cells in my starters?

Thanks again and sorry for all the questions, I'm still fairly new at this. :)

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #28 on: May 29, 2011, 01:27:51 PM »
Quote
I might be adding less starter cells because my mother had less to start with, correct? Or the opposite could be true too, depending on how long I let the cells multiply.
It's not just cells. It's viable, thriving cells. If you culture below ~4.6 pH for meso and ~4.1 for thermo, cells start to die off, and they slow down even before then. The good news is that it doesn't make too big of a difference if you use fresh culture from the same day or culture that's a few days old, provided that you refrigerate the starter as soon as it gels and reaches the correct pH.

That's the beauty of bulk starters, they're not concentrated so there's a bigger variance possible and still have consistent results.

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Offline aram

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Re: Making Mother Cultures - A Photo Essay
« Reply #29 on: May 29, 2011, 03:32:20 PM »
OK, good to know! Thanks for the info/reassurance. I think sometime I just need to calm down and not worry about the minute details and just experiment :)