Stage 1: Ripening

The large vat filled

The large vat filled, being stirred by Stu  and ripening

Once the milk is pasteurised (or not as the case may be), we heat it to between 32 -33oC depending on what we are making and we add starter culture which determines the taste, texture and characteristics of the cheese we are making.

The main microbiological purpose of the starter culture is to turn lactose, milk’s natural sugar in to lactic acid.  It is this that we measure during the cheese making process using an acidity meter – see the picture below right.

Our acidity meter

Our acidity meter

It is a little known fact that most hard cheeses contain very little lactose and therefore no carbohydrate.  My cheese making book, Cheesemaking Practice by R Scott does not give any figures about the lactose content of cheeses, but that old stalwart, Wikipedia does and is reproduced as follows:

Dairy product               Serving size              Lactose content                Percentage
Milk, regular                 250 ml                                     12 g                           4.80%
Milk, reduced fat           250 ml                                     13 g                           5.20%
Yogurt, plain, regular   200 g                                         9 g                           4.50%
Yogurt, plain, low-fat   200 g                                       12 g                           6.00%
Cheddar cheese           30 g                                       0.02 g                        0.07%
Cottage cheese             30 g                                       0.1 g                           0.33%
Butter                              1 tsp (5.9ml)                         0 03 g                        0.51%
Ice cream                       50 g                                         3 g                            6.00%

Some starter culture contains bacteria that produces carbon dioxide which produces bubbles to make cheeses such as Emmental.  It is possible to make your own starter culture, although we do not, we use commercial phage resistant starters from Danisco and Hansens which ensures consistency.  Ripening may take between one and two hours depending on what we are making.

And finally, one thing I have learned is that if after your ripening period, your milk is not sufficiently acidic, you will not get a great set and it may take quite a while to set.  I have also learned that it is vital to alternate starters to avoid phage.  We buy our starters from Orchard Valley.

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2 Comments

Filed under Ribblesdale Cheese, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Stage 1: Ripening

  1. I like this blog. It’s informative and pitched (no pun intended for you cheese makers out there) just right; Neither too technical nor too bland.
    Keep it up folks!

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