So we took 100ml of milk, warmed it up in water heated to about 30C and then left it at the room temperature of the dairy which is about 26C for 2 days. By this time it had thickened into a smooth yoghurt-like consistency. From this 100ml, we added 10ml to a litre of milk we had pasteurised in a bain marie, stirred and poured it into 8 sterilised pots leaving some left over in a jug. After 20 minutes for the bacteria to grow accustomed to their new medium but without giving them enough time to start reproducing, the pots were frozen. The left over mixture in the jug was covered and left overnight to acidify which it duly did – and it tasted great too. I ate some of it for lunch. We then sent 1 of the frozen pots off for testing for pathogens and total viable count. From this we can tell if there are any nasty bacteria present and if so if they are present in quantities that will mean they get the competitive advantage when added to our fresh milk at the start of cheesemaking. The test results were, we thought, satisfactory and emboldened by that, we gave it a go and used it for just 1 batch of cheese on Saturday 16th July.
Having called in a bit of advice from the clever clogs that are Hodgson and Cordle, we were prepared for the cheese to acidify at a different rate and indeed it did just that. A much slower acidification happened despite the starter itself having quite a high acidity at the time we used it. This has meant quite a different cheese which probably at the moment isn’t reaching the potential you might’ve hoped for. However we have tested it too just to double check the test results on the starter and again they are satisfactory. We’re doing another test with a different lab just to make sure before selling it, but signs are actually pretty good to do a few more experiments using larger quantities of starter to get the acidity developing at the same rate as our MT36 starter does.
Most importantly, how do they taste? Well they seem to have a firmer centre than our other cheeses with the normal acidity profile and I’m not entirely sure they’ll break down completely but the flavours so far are good. There’s a creamy breakdown under the rind and certainly the flavours of the curdy centre aren’t too acidic and are quite mellow and rich. It’s too soon to say for definite that this will be the way forward but equally it’s encouraging enough to try it out again and see what happens.