TECHNIQUES & TIPS

Annatto

I was recently making cheddar curds and decided to add a little color to one batch. Most of the time when I add Annatto, I’m following a recipe and don’t really think about the possible color outcomes. In looking on-line for how much to add, you might use Cheesemaking.com recipe. However, even their “mild gold” color will give you striking results. The Stirred Curd recipe(p266) I like calls for 4 drops per gallon. I find that that will make cheese that is just shade off white.

Pasteurize

To Pasteurize or not  to Pasteurize, That is the Question!

I am not going to tell you all milk is safe and that consuming raw milk and raw milk products is a good idea. However, people that milk their own animals or buy milk from raw milk dairies, will say the milk is safe. I will say that Cheese made from raw milk is amazing and pasteurizing it doesn’t improve the flavor. The US government allows raw milk cheese to be sold after 60 days of aging. I have seen studies that say that might not be enough time to kill everything, o you will have to decide for yourself.

I do make cheese with both raw and pasteurized milk.  I prefer raw milk, mostly because it is less work, but the flavor is better too. If you feel like pasteurizing your milk, here are two ways to do it.

Option 1: Heat milk to 145º F stirring constantly. Hold at that temp for 30 minutes. Cool quickly in an ice water bath to return it to a temperature to begin making cheese.

Option 2: Heat milk to 161º-165ºF stirring constantly. Hold at that temp for 30 seconds. Cool quickly in an ice water bath to return it to a temperature to begin making cheese.

Rennet

Rennet is the coagulant that is used to set a curd when making cheese.   Traditionally rennet is made from an enzyme found in the stomachs of baby calves, goats or lambs. Vegetable rennet is obtained from a type of mold, and there are also plant-based rennets such Thistle rennet.   Rennet comes in tablet, liquid and powder form.

To use your rennet, you first must dilute the desired amount in non-chlorinated water (we use distilled water but if you have a good filter on your water source, that will generally take all the chlorine out of the water). If using rennet tablets, just be aware that 1 tablet = 1 teaspoon and when you dilute it in the water it won’t actually dissolve. Use your diluted rennet within 30 minutes or it will lose its effectiveness.

Rennet has a limited shelf life – liquid rennet lasts for 7-8 months when refrigerated and tablets last for up to 2 years when stored in the freezer. If you are unsure how old your rennet is or whether or not it is still effective, you can do the following test:

  • Heat one cup of milk to 90F°.
  • Dilute ¼ tablet or ¼ tsp liquid rennet in ½ cup non-chlorinated water.
  • Take 2 tsp of the diluted rennet and add it to the milk.
  • Stir gently for 30 seconds.
  • If the rennet is working, the milk surface will form a slight film in 2 minutes and will have formed a firm curd within 6 minutes.

If not, it might be time to get some new rennet!

Reprinted from: The Art of Cheese

1 tablet = 1 teaspoon

TIP:
Take a sharpie, write the date on the outside of the bottle when you first put into the frig!