This post on cheesemaking ingredients is part of a series of posts on cheesemaking. Check out Cheesemaking 101: Overview for a complete list of topics.
Buying milk for cheesemaking is not as simple as it may seem. Here are a few things to consider:
- Cheese cannot be made with long-life UHT milk.
- If you start with raw milk, then you may not need to inoculate with a starter culture, as raw milk naturally contains mesophillic culture.
- The best milk for cheesemaking is non-homogenized milk. Homogenization breaks down milk fat to stop the cream from separating. However, it really affects homemade cheese. I find about a 12% reduction in quantity of cheese per gallon of milk with homogenized milk. However, non-homogenized milk is so expensive, that I usually just use regular milk.
- Goat and sheep milk are naturally homogenized.
To make traditional cheeses, you need to use the proper cultures. Store-bought cheese cultures are very vigorous, and do most of their culturing within a short period of time. They come in all sorts of specific strains of bacteria, which will affect the type of cheese you end up with.
- Mesophilic: Mesophilic bacteria culture at room temperature. They don’t require heating during the inoculation stage of cheesemaking. Mesophilic cultures are used for the majority of cheeses (from cheddar to brie).
- Thermophilic: Thermophilic cultures prefer warmer temperatures and need to be kept warm during inoculation. Generally, Italian cheeses (mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan) use thermophilic cultures.
- Kefir: Milk kefir can be used as a mesophilic culture for simple, fresh cheeses. It is a good replacement for the natural bacterial profile found in raw milk. Use it for cheeses like: feta, halloumi, cottage cheese and ricotta.
Cheese salt is a coarse, non-iodized salt that was specifically designed for cheesemaking. However, you can use any non-iodized salt for curing cheese.
Calcium chloride is used to increase the calcium content of your milk. This is very important if you’re using homogenized store-bought milk, sheep milk, or goat milk.
Use 1/4 tsp of calcium chloride mixed into 1/4 cup of chlorine free water for each 4 liters (1 gallon) of milk. It is added with the rennet to improve the curding of homogenized milk.
Buy liquid, food grade calcium chloride online.