Since I thought I would post some of my favorite cheese recipes, I thought we should talk about cultures. Many cheese recipes call for a culture, either a mesophilic or a thermophilic culture. There are quite a few places online that sell these cultures. I got to thinking though that at some point in past history people didn't have access to storebought type cultures...so how did they make cheese. Every culture throughout history has used cheese making as a way of preserving milk so how did they do it without grocery stores or specialty cheese making shops online. I started researching and what I found was that cultured buttermillk was a mesophilic culture and this is easy to culture and make without buying anything extra. Yogurt is a thermophilic culture and while I make my yogurt with a starter there must be a way to do this also. So, I have decided to use these cultures and get some cheese making experience under my belt before I spend money on cultures that wind up in mistakes that are fed to the chickens. Here are the directions for making your own cultured buttermilk and yogurt.
Take one cup of fresh raw milk and cover with muslin. Then let it sit on the counter for about 3 days. Take 1/4c of this culture and place in a pint jar, then add 1 cup to the jar. Shake a bit to mix then let it sit on the counter covered with muslin again for a couple of days or until the milk is clabbered. Keep repeating this process until the milk clabbers within 24 hours. It should be thick and sour tasting, not bitter. It it has any off smells or taste then toss it and start over. Once you reach the point where the milk dependably clabbers within 24 hours, then add 6 oz. to a quart jar, fill the rest of the way with fresh milk, let sit 24 hours and then refrigerate. Now you have cultured buttermilk to use for a mesophilic culture.
I love this method of making yogurt because it simply is no muss no fuss. It is simple and pretty much self making. I have read that some people have trouble with this but mine turns out really well each and every time. Here is what I do.
Take half a gallon of milk and place in crockpot on low for 3 hours. Then I remove a couple cups and mix in 3/4 of a cup of live active culture plain yogurt from the store. If you just bought the 1 cup container then you can use the whole thing, your yogurt will just be a little thicker. Dump this mix back in the crockpot and stir it into the rest of the milk. Then wrap the crockpot in a couple of towels and let it sit for about 8 hours. You don't have to be exact with this time. I have let it sit for as long as 12 hours with no problems. Then you simple pour your yogurt into jars and refrigerate. Now you have your thermophilic culture for cheese.
Blessings from the farm, Kat