Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Finding the Right Steps for Juustoa - Holding the Temperature

In my search for the steps missing in my juustoa recipe, I came across a cheesemaking supply store called The Cheesemaker (website  The owner, Steve Shapson, writes that when he got into cheesemaking, he found that many of the recipes seemed to be missing steps.  So he went in search of clues to help him successfully make cheese at home.  Wow!  That struck a chord.  So I ordered several items including a kit and instructions for making Camembert, Brie, and blue cheeses.  I thought that his recipes may yield some clues for juustoa.  And I kind of wanted to try my hand at Camembert and blue cheese as a lark.  The kit was inexpensive and it came with both instructions and premeasured packets of LAB and mold cultures.  Ideal for a novice!

In reading the recipes for Camembert and blue cheese, I noticed that they said that the milk must be held at temperature for the specified time after the addtion of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to allow the bacteria to begin working before the addition of rennet.  Juustoa does not have LAB added to it.  But I remembered that proteins are interesting molecules.  When you change their temperature, they twist, contract, expand, relax.  But it takes time for the protein to reach its natural shape after the temperature changes.  Hmmm.  My first theory was born: Holding the milk to temperature for an hour lets the proteins come to equillibrium.  So that's why I added the step of letting the milk ripen for juustoa.  That, and if it's good enough for other cheeses, why not juustoa?  It seems to work.

The other change in my juustoa recipe came again as a result of reading other cheese recipes.  The juustoa recipes I have all said to remove the milk from the stove after adding the rennet.  This lets the milk cool as the enzyme in rennet coagulates the milk protein.  Almost all of the cheese recipes I have found said to hold the milk at temperature for various times after adding the rennet.  If you think about it, rennet is an enzyme found in the stomachs of calves.  It's purpose is coagulate the cow's milk so the proteins can be more easily separated from the water in the calf's digestive system.  Calves are living creatures and their body temp is warm, so.....yes, holding the milk at a warm temperature probably helps the enzyme work more effectively.  That's theory number two!  And again, it seems to work.

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