Most cheese recipes tell you to add the starter culture when the milk reaches a certain temperature. As I explain in the video above and in the Cultured Dairy and Basic Cheese eCourse, I prefer to add starter culture(s) while bringing the milk up to temperature.
This inoculates it from the beginning, to protect the milk from being overtaken by other cultures in the air (such as from dairy kefir, water kefir, sourdough, Kombucha and other cheeses). You know, the cultures in a typical traditional kitchen!
Although my experience is entirely experiential, and I can't guarantee your success, I am a believer in doing it this way — because it works for me.
Last year was the first time I was actively using sourdough while making cheese. I added my starter culture according to the recipe I was following — when the milk got to temperature.
Not a good day for cheese. The curds were overtaken by the sourdough's yeasts and when I went to cut them, they were a fluffy, yucky mess — typical yeast contamination. Normal curds are distinct, custard-like cubes. (See photo below.)
I was bummed, as you can imagine. Who likes to waste all that milk, time, and energy?
A light bulb went off in my head.
Could adding a culture at the beginning protect the milk from the yeasts and bacteria of my other cultures? It was worth a try. I tried it — and it worked!
I now make successful, delicious, beautiful cheeses in the same busy kitchen that also contains my sourdough starter, water kefir, dairy kefir, Kombucha, other cheeses, and other lacto-ferments.
What do you think? Have you ever lost batches of cheese to yeast contamination or from being overtaken by other cultures? If so — I'm sorry. I know what that's like! I hope this will help you.
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