Frequently Asked Questions
Ingredients & Equipment:
- What is the shelf life of the freeze-dried cheese cultures?
- How well will my cultures, moulds and rennet handle being shipped in our hot Australian climate?
- How do I store the culture and other cheese making ingredients?
- What is the difference between a Best Before Date and Use By Date?
- How do I test my rennet?
- How much culture do I use?
- I'm planning to buy a Hard Cheese Kit. Do I need Cheese Press?
- How can I calibrate and reset my thermometer if needed?
- How do I know if my cheese is dry enough to wax?
- What do I do about mould growing on my cheese while drying and/or ageing?
- What do I do about mould on my cheese under the wax?
- What can I use as a "Cheese Cave" environment to age my cheeses?
- I have a Green Living Australia "Starter Kit" but I want to make more advanced cheeses. Where do I get the instructions?
- My cheese has a bitter taste. What could have gone wrong?
- How do I pasteurise my milk?
- What milk can I use to make Cheese?
- Can I make Cheese out of goat’s milk?
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 email@example.com 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?
When stored correctly, freeze-dried lactic cultures are typically viable long after any date on the pack.
How well will my cultures, moulds and rennet handle being shipped in our hot Australian climate?
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. We 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 or enzymes 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?
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.
What is the difference between a Best Before Date and Use By Date?
A Use By Date is put on products that must be used or disposed of before the date supplied as these foods will deteriorate and could become dangerous to consume. A Best Before Date is put on products to indicate that the product is literally best before the date supplied but can still be used after that date.
When used with cultures and other temperature sensitive cheese making products the Best Before Date is applied by the manufacturers who must allow a certain leeway for the time the products are in transit etc. and are not being stored as proscribed. Given that both our suppliers and ourselves take great care to ensure these products are stored correctly prior to shipment we are more than confident, and experience has shown, that these products will be able to be used successfully well past the dates on the packaging.
How do I test my rennet?
Over time your rennet can begin to lose 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?
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.
Dosing Cheese Culture:
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.
I'm planning to buy a Hard Cheese Kit, do I need a Cheese Press?
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.
How can I calibrate and reset my thermometer if needed?
The thermometer will register the ambient temperature in the room until it is placed in something of a different temperature. To check the accuracy of your thermometer, place the thermometer into a glass of water with ice cubes or crushed ice in. It should show as zero degrees.
If it does not show as zero degrees it will need to be re-calibrated. To do this, use a small spanner or pliers to hold the small nut at the top of the shaft immediately below the thermometer head then turn the dial until the needle indicates zero, while still in the freezing cold iced water.
Thermometers may need to be re-calibrated if they get knocked around, such as when they are in the draw with other cooking utensils. For this reason, it is advised to keep them separately so they do not get knocked around while you are digging for the wooden spoon.
How do I know if my cheese is dry enough to wax?
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?
Because of the high humidity in some parts of Australia, drying your cheese can sometimes take more than just a few days and this can increase the chances of mould spores in the air landing on your cheese. This is can also happen when ageing cheeses that have not been waxed or vac-packed. Mould growing on the outside of cheese can also be an important part of the ageing process. To remove any unwanted mould, simply wipe it off with a cloth moistened with brine or vinegar.
What do I do about mould on my cheese under the wax?
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?
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
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' Cheese Making Kits but I want to make more advanced cheeses. Where do I get the instructions?
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?
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 too acidic. This is caused by the milk over-ripening once you have added your culture. Over-ripening is caused 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?
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.
Gently warm the milk to 63° to 65° C,
Cooling the milk rapidly in a sink of cold water.
Remove the pot from 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.
What milk can I use to make Cheese?
"Cheese making over the centuries has been done with milk from a variety of animals. Here in Australia, most people will be very familiar with cheeses made from cow’s milk and goat’s milk, but you can also make cheese from the milk of other dairy animals and it will depend on where you are in the world, as to what milks are most available to you." (Home Cheese Making in Australia, by Valerie Pearson)
The milk we have access to here in Australia is pasteurised. What temperature that milk is pasteurised as is important in cheese making. "We now commonly see HTST pasteurisation done at 74oC but above 75oC will start to damage the milk for cheese making. Most of the bacteria found in raw milk are killed at 72oC and most cheeses are made with milk pasteurised at this temperature. Pasteurisation at too higher temperature may damage the milk proteins and make it unsuitable for cheese making as the proteins are denatured; however, at 72oC to 74oC this damage is minimal.
UHT (Ultra Heat Treated) milk also known as long life milk:
Milk treated at an ultra-high temperature is unsuitable for most cheese making. The extreme heat treatment can denature the whey proteins and there interactions with k-casein, which prevents curd formation in cheese making. However, it is still very good for making yoghurt and some soft curd cheeses such as quark. As a general rule, UHT milk is not suitable for hard curd cheeses." Home Cheese Making in Australia by Valerie Pearson)
Can I make Cheese out of goat’s milk?
Yes, you can. Goat’s milk has fat, protein and lactose, just the same as cow’s milk, although they are different. This means that the lactic acid bacteria used to make cheese will work in goat’s milk as well as cow’s milk. Goat’s milk is naturally homogenized and when using this milk to make cheese, the curd is always softer. The use of calcium chloride is essential to get a good curd and I usually use twice as much in goat's milk as is called for in a cow's milk recipe.
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