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Cheese making in the tropics


Gul_Dekar
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Is this possible at all? I happen to possess a packet of freeze-dried mesophilic culture and was thinking of propagating it by making a prepared culture following the instructions in Ricki Caroll's Home Cheese Making (so maybe I could keep it and use it for longer).

All I could think in order to adapt to room temp here (which is about 88-89F) was placing it in a water bath and adding ice to the water bath to maintain the 72F asked for in the instructions during incubation (after all the previous steps which I think should be possible to manage). Either that, or reduce the incubation time. But I don't really know for how long exactly.

Any ideas? Or maybe I'm just way over my head about this whole cheese-making experiment in hot & humid conditions... :wacko: but I was just thinking that maybe it's worth a shot since I brought the culture back halfway around the world and if I don't use it it'll go to waste anyway. Only other thing I can think of to do with it would be to add a bit to some flour & water to see if it works as a sourdough starter.

So...any help or opinions would be much appreciated!

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I can't tell you how it is done, but I can tell you that it is doable. I bought fresh cheeses from cheese makers in Caracas markets every week I was there, and they were fantastic. They kept everything out on their carts in the heat and humidity and we never had a problem with anything spoiling. Mmmmmmm. Cheese.

-L

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  • 3 weeks later...

Your success will depend on the type of cheese you're making. Mesophilic starters can be used in everything from cheddar to jack to cottage cheeses. Each of these has different incubation times and temperatures, all of which have a tremendous effect on the final product. Longer and warmer fermentations result in more acidity, which in effect changes the texture of the curds. A cool water bath around the fermentation vessel does work but why not simply make a different variety of cheese? Many mesophilic cheeses require that the milk be brought up to temperatures in the 80's and low 90's -- your environment may be perfect for these. This is the exact opposite of the problem I have here in Alaska where I have to constantly work to keep the milk warm in a 60 degree room!

My real question is why fight the environment you're in? Italian and Mexican cheeses are created in warm environments like yours. Instead, start with a thermophilic starter. Try a simple mozzarella to begin with and then advance to a parmesan, montasio, queso blanco, and finally swiss. Aging may be more problematic as finding a cool but not refrigerated spot is sometimes tough (even for me!). Some cheeses are best consumed fresh anyway.

Even if you're conditions are not perfect, give it a try. I think you'll be pleased with the process and the results.

Edited by bigkoiguy (log)
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Thanks for the input. I'll try it out anyway and see how it goes. I was living in a 'milder' climate before and thought the mesophilic culture would be easier to use than the thermophilic one so I didn't get any of the latter. It's kinda ironic now that having some here would mak a lot of sense. Never mind, I guess.

Just got some mason jars so hope to elaborate my culture soon. Hopefully things go well!

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