Q&A: Having Bread Yeast Nearby When Making Cheese Can Ruin the Cheese

A customer asks:  I’ve been making cheese successfully for quite a while now. But, all of a sudden, right after its done, it starts to grow into an ugly blob and smells awful. Is it contaminated and bad? Did I do something wrong?

Jerri’s answer: Great question! You must be baking homemade bread at the same time, or near the time you’re making cheese. The yeast used for making bread gets in the air no matter what you do.

Culture Sampler

Cheese Culture Sampler Kit

Here’s the solution: Instead of heating the milk first and then adding cheese culture, add the culture while the milk is still cold. Then heat the milk to the start temperature and continue with the recipe as usual.

There is competition between the bread yeast and the bacterial culture. When you heat the milk first, the yeast grows fast and kills off the bacterial culture when you add it to the milk. But when you add the bacterial culture to cold milk, the culture starts to grow right away; and then it can overcome the yeast and kill it.

And, by the way, that yeasty blob of cheese won’t hurt you if you eat it, but it’s very unappetizing and it tastes awful.

Q&A: What You Need to Know About Waxed Cheese

A customer asked: How long can I age my waxed cheese if it has spices or herbs in it, like chives or garlic, etc.?

Waxed Cheese

Waxed Cheese

Jerri’s answer: Usually, those types of cheeses need to be eaten within six months. If you use irradiated seasonings, and if you scald the herbs and spices before adding them to the cheese, then you can age it longer.

 A customer asked: Why do I have to flip a waxed cheese over while it’s aging?

Jerri’s answer: Freshly made cheese continues to release small amounts of liquid (whey). Gravity draws the liquid downward, causing it to collect at the bottom where it sometimes leaks out from the underside of the cheese. Flipping the cheese over helps keep the whey from escaping, If you were to age a cheese without turning it over, all the whey would leak out the bottom and turn the cheese into rotten mush.

Freshly made cheese that has been waxed or preserved needs to be turned over every day for the first two weeks. Beginning with the third week, the cheese should be flipped approximately every other day for at least another two weeks. When aging a cheese beyond 30 days, most cheesemakers continue to turn the cheese over at least once a week.

Q&A: How to Make Your Own Kombucha Tea Bags

A customer asks: Why don’t you sell the reusable muslin tea bags for making kombucha tea?

Kombucha Starter Kit

Kombucha Starter Kit

Jerri’s answer: Our supplier doesn’t sell those tea bags, nor do we use them ourselves at Homesteader’s Supply. Instead, we use a piece of cheese cloth. Just place some tea leaves inside the cheese cloth and tie it up into a bag. Then, when the tea is done brewing, throw away the used tea leaves and wash the cheese cloth to use again later. It’s much easier to clean the cheese cloth than it is to wash out those muslin tea bags.

In fact, we don’t even use or sell the muslin bags that many folks use to grow our Speedy Sprouts, either. You can’t see anything through the bag. And it’s so much easier to grow the seeds in a canning jar with a piece of cheese cloth over the top, secured with a canning ring. It allows air and water to flow through, and you can see your sprouts growing.

You can see how much we love our cheese cloth! We use it for so many things besides cheesemaking.

Q&A: How to Get the Best Deal on Shipping Costs

A customer asked: The shipping cost for an item I want to order from your website is reasonable if I order just one. But I need three of them, and the shipping costs seem much too high. I really need all three, but I don’t want to pay that much for shipping. Is there anything you can do to get me a better deal?

Jerri’s answer: Great question! Our website software isn’t always accurate when it comes to larger orders. It’s a math thing. What you need is personal assistance to calculate the correct shipping charges. We want you to have a good shopping experience, so please call us if you have questions when ordering. We will help you right there on the spot rather than sending you back to the website.

Also, just so you know…we reconcile the amount that gets charged for shipping with the actual shipping costs associated with each order. So if our website software should ever accidentally overcharge you for shipping, we would catch the error and refund the difference.

3 Insomnia Remedies You Might Not Know About

insomnia remedies

If you have persistent insomnia, you’ve probably already tried the more common sleep remedies. But what if you’re not one of the lucky folks who get relief with natural sedatives like chamomile tea or tinctures made from herbs like valerian? If you seek conventional medical treatment, your doctor will probably offer you a sleeping pill. But, unless you have a serious health condition, you might want to try one of these less-known sleep remedies before you get that prescription filled. Continue reading

Should You Use Calcium Chloride When Making Mozzarella?

Stretching Mozzarella

Lately, online cheesemaking forums have been abuzz with controversy over the question of whether calcium chloride should be used when making mozzarella. Some folks insist that calcium chloride is necessary for proper curd formation, and others argue that it prevents the curds from stretching.

So, who’s right?

To get to the bottom of this controversy, we turned to world-renown cheesemaker Margaret Morris, author of The Cheesemaker’s Manual, 2015 winner of First Prize at the American Cheese Society (ACS) Society, and 2013 winner of the top award at the Global Cheese Making Competition in Somerset, UK.

Here’s what we learned. Continue reading