Author Topic: General Cheese Making Newbie Questions  (Read 1116 times)

Offline doni49

  • New Cheese
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Cheeses: 0
General Cheese Making Newbie Questions
« on: January 09, 2009, 09:57:56 PM »
Hi all!

I'm really interested in making my own cheeses.  I'm interested in Mozz, Provolone, Parmasean, Romano, Swiss, Cheddar, Colby, Jack (these are the ones that come to mind--I might add others as I learn about the others).

So I have a few questions:

1)  For those cheeses that need to be aged, can I use just a fridge and put the cheeses in rubbermade/tupperware type containers?  Maybe vacuum seal them via foodsaver instead?  Maybe do the waxing thing?  I'm a little confused because some threads seem to imply that I need to control the humidity level (and put a humidifier in the fridge) but others seem to imply that if sealed, humidity is less of an issue.

2) What about the cultures?  Am I best buying them?  Or can they be made easily enough? 

3) How about storing the cultures?  How long do they last?  How should they be stored?

4) Can I use milk from the grocery store?  Vitamin D?  2%?  Or do I need to find a farmer?

Thanks!


Guests, join the CheeseForum.org community to remove this ad.


Offline Likesspace

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Southern Illinois
  • Posts: 773
  • Cheeses: 20
    • Middleton Street Weather
Re: General Cheese Making Newbie Questions
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2009, 11:25:25 PM »
Hi all!

I'm really interested in making my own cheeses.  I'm interested in Mozz, Provolone, Parmasean, Romano, Swiss, Cheddar, Colby, Jack (these are the ones that come to mind--I might add others as I learn about the others).

So I have a few questions:

1)  For those cheeses that need to be aged, can I use just a fridge and put the cheeses in rubbermade/tupperware type containers?  Maybe vacuum seal them via foodsaver instead?  Maybe do the waxing thing?  I'm a little confused because some threads seem to imply that I need to control the humidity level (and put a humidifier in the fridge) but others seem to imply that if sealed, humidity is less of an issue.

2) What about the cultures?  Am I best buying them?  Or can they be made easily enough? 

3) How about storing the cultures?  How long do they last?  How should they be stored?

4) Can I use milk from the grocery store?  Vitamin D?  2%?  Or do I need to find a farmer?

Thanks!

Hi Doni....
Okay, here's my advice but other might be along shortly to offer something more thorough.

1.) When I first started out, I did use my regular household fridge to age my cheese. I have always waxed them and this seemed to work out well. Once the cheese was waxed and in the fridge, I never had a problem with the chees growing mold or cracking from drying out. Just make sure you use a proper cheese wax, which can be ordered from any cheese making supply stie (Leeners, The Dairy Connection, New England Cheese Making Supply, etc.)

2.) I've bought my cultures from day one. At first it might seem as though they are expensive but you get a lot of batches out of a very small amount. Most of my cheeses require 1/4 - 1/2 tsp., depending on the size of cheese I am making. I usually keep the following: Mesophilic A (good for colby, cheddar, blues & Jack style).  Mesophilic M (I usually use this only for Gouda as it adds a nice nutty flavor and creates tiny little eyes in the cheese). Thermophilic (this is used for swiss, parmesan, romano, Mozzerella and provolone). Proprionic Shermanii (The bacteria that gives swiss it's flavor and creates the eyes in the cheese). Flora Danica (another type of Mesophilic culture that adds a lot of flavor to cheeses like Camembert and Brie). Penicillum Candidum and Penicilllum Geothricum(not sure I spelled this correctly since I'm not looking at the package). These cultures are used only for cheeses such as Camembert and Brie which are surfaced ripened cheeses.
I also keep a large supply of P. Rocqforti which is the blue mold for cheeses such as Gorgonzola an dmy beloved Stilton. Of course you won't need nearly this many to start out and according to the list of cheeses you are interested in, you can probably get by with just Thermophilic and Mesophilic A. The only other thing you might want to purchase is Lipase which is an enzyme that will give added flavor to your provolone and mozzerella cheeses. You might also want to order a bottle of cheese coloring, to add a little color to your Colby, Cheddar, Gouda, etc......
4.) The cultures are supposed to last for up to 2 years when stored in your refrigerator freezer compartment. I have used these cultures when they are well over 3 years and they seem to work just fine. Your mileage may vary, but you can expect at least two years if stored properly.
5.) As for your milk, here's the scoop: Raw milk is best. From the curd people seem to get from raw milk there is no doubt that it is superior.
Grocery store milk will also work well as long as you use Calcium Chloride solution to help in the setting of the milk. I personally do not have access to raw milk so I do use store bought, but I am pretty picky about what milk I use and have even contacted several dairies to find out what their pasteurization methods are. If the milk is heated at too high of a temp. during the pasteruization process it really does harm the quality. UHT, or Ultra Pasteruized milk is basically worthless when it comes to making cheese.
Hopefully this has answered your questions, but wait until some others have posted to this thread.
There are some highly knowledgeable people on this forum who are more qualified to offer advice than I am.
Have a great weekend.
Dave

Offline bundy

  • Medium Cheese
  • ***
  • Location: Mackay Nth Queensland Australia
  • Posts: 42
  • Cheeses: 0
Re: General Cheese Making Newbie Questions
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2009, 10:21:09 PM »
Hi Don
like Likesspace i also can only get store bought milk as stated the trick is shopping around to get the best that's available
Bundy

Offline John (CH)

  • Old Cheese
  • *****
  • Location: Katy, Houston, Texas, USA
  • Posts: 4,069
  • Cheeses: 60
Re: General Cheese Making Newbie Questions
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2009, 10:54:36 PM »
doni49

Welcome to the complex world of Cheese Making ;D. Likesspace has some excellent thoughts, just to add my 2 cents:

1) Aging is for most of us the most miserable part, humidity too high, get mold, too low cracks. Thus as it is hard to hold the right amount for long 1-3 month periods thus many use waxing (better) or bags (poorer) to seal their pressed cheeses from the elements. I've written a webpage on Cheese Caves, but frankly have yet to find a simple effective system. The problem with household fridges is they are normally too cold and too dry, thus the box to increase the humidity. But that is a poor method and thus many wax or bag.

2) You can make your own, I used the mesophilic ripened buttermilk for many of my earlier cheeses but they will all taste a bit similar and thus when you are ready you should buy some manufactured ones.

3) I store my cultures in a Tupperware container in the freezer for maximum life. They need to be cool while shipping as well. Not sure how long last, good question, but as Likesspace says, he's still using 3 year old ones with success.

4) I use cheap store bought 1 US gallon jugs of whole or 2% pasteurized & homogenized cow's milk, CaCl2 does help get good curd sets, but is not critical for your first few batches, without it I had to add a little extra rennet.

A few of us here put together a sticky post for people new to making cheese, basically recommending starting simple with methods, ingredients, and equipment and increase as build up knowledge. We have a suppliers webpage that I try to maintain.

Let us know how it works out, you can post your results in this forum if want as several of us do, problems and all ;D. Have fun!

PS: Where in the world are you (helps to give advice)?