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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

 


 

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

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Room temperature1 to 2 months
Refridgerator6 to 12 months
Freezer2 to 5 years

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

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Very well!! Just store the items "as advised" as soon as possible.

To be honest, 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 quite a while now, and have found the cultures are hardier than may be imagined. I tested yoghurt culture left on my desk, at room temperature, over a period of four months. I found that at three months the culture still worked well, however at four months I needed to increase the culture dose very dramatically. 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 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, and 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 carefull 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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Rennet doesn’t really die it just gets weaker. Just adding a little more rennet can compensate for this.

One way to test your rennet to see if it is still active 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.

Dividing the culture and mould down to a suitable dose, can, in part, be a bit of guestimation ... which 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 form 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 mold 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 mold on my cheese, under the wax ?

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So when removing the wax, you find some mould has grown on your cheese ... just cut it of and enjoy the rest of your cheese adventure.

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

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Soft cheeses, including Feta are best kept in a standard refridgerator. Hard cheeses, camemberts, blue cheeses etc. need to age in a humid environment between 10° and 15° C. We use an old fridge that has 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 a Green Living Australia "Starter Kit", 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 starter kit, with the limited instructions supplied, but our kit is just that, a "starter kit". As you move onto more complex cheeses, a much greater depth of knowledge is needed, such as can be found in the Ricki Carroll book, "Home Cheese Making."

Valerie has a number of specialty cheese books, that she has read from cover to cover, and has made many different cheeses .... but still refers to to her "cheese bible" ... Home Cheese Making, constantly .... if you are not making cheese every day, and Valerie is always complaining about work interrupting her cheese making, you just can't get away without having a good, comprehensive reference book at hand.

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 sterilized 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.

Double boilers are expensive, what else can I use ?

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A picture says a thousand words…

Double Boiler

These two large stockpots came as part of a set of four from our local hardware store, with the smaller two suitable for smaller milk batches, and these two suitable for up to 10 or even 12 litres.

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 or water, to act as a double boiler, 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 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 cheeses in order of the the cheeses in the instruction book, as this is an ideal way to learn ... start with the simpler more forgiving cheeses and move on up the difficulty curve. The earlier cheeses in the instructions either do not require pressing, or only need very small weights such as the 2 litre milk bottle.

As people progress in their cheese making adventures they may, and hopefully do, enjoy the cheese making to such an extent that they do wish to move on to cheeses that require more extensive pressing ... at this stage some sort of "press" is required .... and I put the quotation marks around the word press as this does not have to be a mechanical press but can simply be heavier weights ... we have seen cheese pressed with nothing more than a bucket of water on top of a soup tin, on top of the follower.

So for the beginner, or those of us with a bit of the "MacGyver" in us, there is no need to buy a press straight off the bat ... so this does give you the chance to start making cheeses without the additional expense.

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