Excellent dissertation, Caseus. I'm really wondering if the thrust of your dialogue is driven by self-doubts.
I have used, and still use 1/4 tsp of this or that dry culture to fashion a cheese. I resisted mother cultures for a couple years and only recently jumped in. I don't make that many cheeses that frequently. That was my
justification for not using MCs. Then I found I had several bags of culture that were a little shy of product and felt I needed to either stretch it or reorder. I also liked the idea of increasing the pitch rate.
I looked over the types of cheeses I had been making and reasoned that there were several cultures that could be used across a lot of the cheese styles that I had been doing. Minor tweaks in the process combined with rind treatments would create still allow me to make my cheeses. Following Sailor's photo essay, these would all be frozen as ice cubes and vacuum-sealed as individual make quantities. Per his dosage chart, I would need 8 ounces for a 4 gallon make. Each cube is one ounce. There are 16 cubes in a tray. That means I get two makes out of each tray. 8 cubes to a bag, clearly labeled with the culture's name.
So what cultures would I select to accommodate my cheese styles? I had to have some standard mesophilic and thermophilic as a baseline. I would do Aromatic B
for the meso and TA-61
for the thermo. I wanted to do a couple more with a little more complexity. My choice here was Alp D
which I have only recently discovered and really like. This is a pretty busy culture mix. It has a majority of meso with some LH and ST. It's what was called for in my Maasdam
make. Then I decided that MA4001
(LL+LC+LD+ST) should be in this. Later on I added Kazu
, which gives me LL+LC+LD+LH.
The convenience of simply zipping open a vacuum bag and extracting the cubes for a make is rationale enough for me to continue along the MC path. The process effort, time, sanitation, and expense to put those cubes in the freezer is minimal. It extends the use of expensive dry cultures that I purchase and saves me a little extra cash that I can use to buy the things that I cannot MC and freeze, such as PS, KL71, SR3, GEO, PC, rennet, etc.
The last cheese I did was a Cheddar
. I had made a fresh batch of Alp D the night before, so I used 8 ounces of fresh MC and froze the rest as cubes.
Folks doing this have to decide which way to go and what works for them. You go one way...I go another.