IMPORTANT NOTE: Maintaining the integrity and shelf-life of freeze dried DVI (direct vat inoculation) lactic bacteria cultures: The use of the modern freeze dried direct set cultures is very convenience for home and artisan cheese makers. Yet caring for them once you open the sealed foil packet is important to shelf-life and consistant batch making. If you will be using a small amount of culture for your batch, the following is very important. Your culture can be affected by humidity and airborne elements. If the sealed foil packet is kept in the freezer, it will last 1.5-2 years. Once opened, it is important to keep moisture from shortening the shelf-life of your culture. Some cultures are blends of up to four different lactic bacteria in specific proportions. Some cultures contain a single strain of lactic bacteria. With the latter, using a small amount of the product for a small batch is fine. The cultures that contain a blend of different lactic bacteria strains need extra attention. Before opening or if the packet is already opened, shake the packet well to mix evenly the different strains before taking a small amount from the packet. Do not use a utencil to mix the culture and do not empty the packet into another container to mix it up. After taking the small amount of culture from the packet, fold the foil packet up a few times and place inside a small sealed Zip Lock style plastic bag, placing it inside another small Zip Lock style plastic bag. This will help to insure that outside humidity and airborne elements will not shorten the shelf-life or contaminate your culture.
Which starter culture do I use? Cheese making is part science, part craft. Therefore if you are new to the craft, use the culture which is recommended on this web site. Sometimes there may be more than one recommended. You may want to experiment by adjusting your recipe (make sheet) and use a different starter culture. This way you can compare the flavor, acidity, texture of your cheese. Try not to change more than one variable at a time so you can determine exactly why your cheeses are different. Cultures, molds and yeasts are packaged in a moisture barrier sealed foil packets, keeping them free from air and humidity. After opening, fold over packet a few times and place in one, if not two small plastic bags or Zip-Lock type bags. Store dry cultures, molds, dry rennet powder / tablets in the freezer if you do not plan on using them for at least six months, otherwise store them in the refrigerator where they will have a shelf life of 18 months and more. Store liquid rennet in the refrigerator. When using any of the items listed on this page you should use the amount specified on the packaging, not in the recipe you may be using. Cultures, molds, rennets and additives vary in concentration per manufacturer.