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Cheese Making Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question, or require help with your cheese making, please call (07) 3808 2576 or email Valerie with as much information about your question or problem as possible at valerie@greenlivingaustralia.com.au If you send an email, please include your phone number so that Valerie can call you back to diagnose your problem.

 


 

What is the shelf life of the freeze dried cheese cultures?

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When stored correctly freeze dried lactic cultures are typically viable long after any date on the pack.

Room temperature   1 to 2 months
Refrigerator   6 to 12 months
Freezer   2 to 5 years

 

How well will my cultures, moulds and rennet handle being shipped in our hot Australian climate?

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Our cultures travel very well. Just store the items "as advised" as soon as possible.

Most cheese making ingredients and yoghurt cultures are shipped to us from overseas, without any cooling, and we just store the items correctly once they get to us. It is the long term storage that is important.

We have shipped thousands of culture sachets a year for over a decade and have found the cultures are hardier than may be imagined. We tested yoghurt cultures left at room temperature over a period of four months. I found that at three months the culture still worked well, however; at four months we needed to increase the culture dose significantly. This same culture kept in a freezer would have lasted for years.

What we wish to avoid is anyone getting their yoghurt or cheese cultures and storing them in the pantry for many months, without even knowing that they needed to be put in the fridge or freezer.

Perhaps we are overcompensating with the notes on our site and the labels all over the place, but we do know someone who kept an unopened cheese kit in a hot pantry for two years.

 

How do I store the culture and other cheese making ingredients?

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The dry items like cultures and rennet tablets should be stored in a freezer. Ther liquid items such as liquid rennet should be stored in a refrigerator.

We supply free sterile jars with the sachets of culture & mould and these are for the storage of the cultures & mould once the sachets are opened.

When opening your sachet of culture or mould, we recommend bringing it to room temperature first. This will reduce the effect of the condensation causing some of the culture being stuck to the inside of the sachet. Cut all the way across the top of the sachet, then concertina it and pour the culture into the sterile jar supplied.

Please be careful to close your jar properly to keep the moisture out while it is in the freezer.

 

How do I test my rennet?

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Over time your rennet can begin to loose some of its strength. Just adding a little more rennet can compensate for this.

One way to test your rennet to see how active it still is, is to  take a tablespoon of warm milk (35° C) and add a drop of Calcium Chloride and a drop of rennet. It should set in 5 minutes or less. If it doesn’t set in 5 minutes, take another tablespoon of warm milk and add 2 drops. This should give you some idea how much extra rennet you need to add to get a good set.

 

How much culture or mould do I use?

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Each sachet of culture or mould tells you how many litres of milk it will incubate. You need to use the appropriate amount of culture for the batch of cheese you are making. Cultures are not packed with a set weight or quantity, but by the activity level of the culture itself. For example, if the sachet will inoculate 100 L of milk and you are planning to use 8 litres of milk, you will need 8/100’s or 1/12th of the sachet contents.

When dividing the culture or mould down to a suitable dose, estimation is acceptable. Our Mini Measuring Spoons are a great tool to help you get some consistency from one batch of cheese to the next. Alternately, use the tip of a knife and measure by eye from your culture or mould placed in the sterile jar.

 

How do I know if my cheese is dry enough to wax?

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Once the cheese has been pressed it is removed from the mould and set out to dry on a wooden cheese board. Drying can take several days during which time the cheese is turned to ensure even drying. When dry the cheese should both appear and feel dry to the touch.

 

What do I do about mould on my cheese while drying?

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Because of the high humidity in some parts of Australia, drying can sometimes take more than just a few days, so there is an increased chance of mould spores in the air landing on your cheese. To remove the mould, simply wipe it off with a vinegar moistened cloth.

 

What do I do about mould on my cheese under the wax?

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If you find some mould on your cheese when removing the wax,  just cut it off and enjoy the rest of your cheese. 

 

What can I use as a "Cheese Cave" environment to age my cheeses?

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Soft cheeses, including Feta and Mozzarella, are best kept in a standard refrigerator. Hard cheeses, Camemberts and blue cheeses etc. need to age in a humid environment between 10° and 15° C. We have used an old fridge that had been converted to run at these higher temperatures. You can also use a wine fridge.

We run our "Cheese Cave" at 12° C

Cheese Cave

This fridge cost us about $200 and the "Refco" thermostat from Actrol Parts cost under $50 at the time.

We keep the Camemberts, Bries and blue cheeses in Decor storage boxes that act as enclosed environments. These keep the humidity up and prevent the various moulds cross contaminating the cheeses or the fridge. To help maintain the humidity, a bowl of water can be placed on the bottom of the fridge.

 

I have one of the beginners's Cheese Making Kits but I want to make more advanced cheeses. Where do I get the instructions?

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You can get away with making the more simple cheeses in our Beginner's Cheese Making Kits with the limited instructions supplied, however; these kits are just that, beginner's kits. As you move forward onto more complex cheeses, a much greater depth of knowledge is needed. Our recommendation is to get a copy of Home Cheese Making in Australia, by Valerie Pearson. This book was written for the Australian cheese making in mind and uses cheese making ingredients available in Australia, not those that you have to order form overseas.  

 

My cheese has a bitter taste. What could have gone wrong?

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Too much rennet can give the cheese a bitter taste. Reduce the amount of rennet in your next attempt at this cheese.

Contamination due to poor hygiene can cause a bitter taste. This can happen to the best of us so be sure your working environment is clean and that you have sterilised all your utensils. If you are using raw milk, pasteurise it before making your cheese to ensure that there are no unwanted pathogens in your milk.

Your milk became to acidic. This is caused by the milk over ripening once you have added your culture. Over ripening is cased by adding too much culture or leaving it to ripen for too long. Be careful with your measuring of the culture and watch your timing.

 

How do I pasteurise my milk?

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If you have access to farm fresh, raw milk and you need to pasteurise your milk, use a stainless steel pot inside another pot of water, to act as a water jacket, and bring the milk to 63 degrees C. Maintain this temperature for 30 minutes. Do not let the milk drop below this temperature, as if you do, all the pathogens in the milk may not be killed. Try not let the milk go much above 65 degrees, as if you do, you may reduce the quality of the curd when making your cheese.

Pasteurise Warming

Gently warm the milk to 63° to 65° C,
maintain for 30 minutes.

Pasteurise Cooling

Cooling the milk rapidly in a sink of cold water.

Remove the pot of the heat and place it in a sink of ice cold water and cool the milk quickly to the temperature that you need to make your cheese.

 

Can I use Goat's milk in place of Cow's milk to make the cheeses in your kits?

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Yes. Cow's milk and Goat's milk can both be used to make the cheeses in our kits. They will however, give you a different flavour, as the type of milk used is important to the final flavour of your cheese.

 

I'm planning to buy a Hard Cheese Kit, do I need a Cheese Press?

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We recommend making the feta first for which you will not need a cheese press. Then try a Monterey Jack cheese which you can press easily without a cheese press just using a milk bottle and the appropriate amount of water in it to create the weight.

To move onto the other cheeses you will need a cheese press or some other way to put much greater pressure on yout cheese.  

This is an evolving page, and more will be added soon.