Adding Meso and Thermo Cultures
Q. What is the benefit of using both Mesophilic Culture and Thermophilic Culture in a recipe? A lot of cheese makers, particularly the French, use them both in Camembert and blue cheese even though these cheeses are not aged for long and the curd isn't cooked.
A. In traditional raw milk cheeses, both the mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria come into the cheese from the milk itself. These can then be selected for activity by altering the process temperatures. MA 4002 is a good example of this, and it is often referred to as the farmhouse culture.
So, today folks add both in varying amounts. Even when temps are not ideal for some of these, they will populate and provide enzymes for even a short aging.
Measurements for Small vs. Large Culture Packs
Q. I have begun using a large culture pack, MA11 Mesophilic Culture for my hard cheeses. As you know, for someone who makes a lot of cheese, the bulk culture is more affordable than using the C101 Mesophilic Culture packets. Most of the recipes call for a small packet of starter instead of a measured amount. How should I convert a recipe that uses packets instead of teaspoons?
A. The amount of culture to use from a large culture pack will be somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon per 2-gallon batch depending upon the milk quality. Raw milk will require slightly less culture.
Q. I have cultures in my freezer that are over a year past the "Best By Date." What will happen if I use them to make my cheese?
A. Cultures have a working life. When cultures get old it can become weak or die off completely.
Weak, older cultures will work very slowly compared to fresh cultures. This can expose milk to other, not-so-healthy, bacteria that could populate faster than the bacteria you intended to use for cheese making.
Also, when cultures are weak, they may not convert all the lactose before forming and pressing the curds into cheese. This would result is a cheese that did not drain well and can be problematic while aging.