What if something Goes wrong
If you've been careful about sterilizing everything, and about the timing and the temperature rules above, probably nothing will go wrong. But . . .
1. If your starter tastes sharply acid, or even slightly metallic, it may mean that it has overripened.
(Next time, use a little less starter, or incubate it at 70° instead of 72°.)
2. If your starter won't coagulate, it could mean any
(or all) of the following:
- The temperature dropped below 72° (110° F. for thermophilic culture) during the ripening period.
- The inoculating culture didn't contain live bacteria.
- The milk contained antibiotics. This happens occasionally when a dairy must give an antibiotic to a cow. The medicine is absorbed in the animal's system and comes out in the milk.
- In cleaning your utensils, you used a bleach or a strong detergent and didn't rinse thoroughly enough. Residual amounts of either can halt bacterial action.
- You didn't add enough starter culture. This is unlikely in your first batch, because the packets of freeze-dried culture are very carefully premeasured. In your second and succeeding batches, be sure to add two ounces of fresh starter, or two cubes (two ounces) of frozen starter culture, from your freezer supply, f. Also unlikely, but still possible, is that organisms hostile to the lactic acid-producing bacteria are present in the culture. 3. If you find bubbles in your finished starter culture, it could mean:
- The skim milk was not properly sterilized in the canning jar step.
- Your equipment was not clean enough. Bubbles in starter are manufactured by gas-
producing organisms such as yeasts or coliform bacteria. They are present in a starter due to faulty preparation technique, and such a starter should be discarded.
If you have any reason to believe that your starter culture isn't quite right, throw it away and begin again with afresh culture. It would be heartbreaking to wait six long months for your cheese to age, only to find that the wrong bacteria have been at work spoiling it.
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