Specials
Combined Cheese Making Kit
£95.00 £85.00
Based on 1 reviews.
Hard Cheese Making Kit
£90.00 £80.00
Based on 3 reviews.
Soft Cheese Making Kit
£40.00 £30.00
Based on 2 reviews.
The Big Kit
£180.00 £170.00

Q & A

As I am always passing on your questions to Chris Ashby I thought a 'Questions and Answers' page would be a good idea. So please, if you have any technical questions, email them to info@cheesemaking.co.uk ; I will then pass them on to Chris who will probably reply direct to you with the advice and finally the information will appear on this page to help other budding cheese makers.

UPDATED: 23rd October 2014

** As well as Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Ocado and Morrisons also sell whole and semi-skimmed, non homogenised milk.** Thank you Steve

** Top Tip. The best place to make cheese is in your kitchen sink. Run some hot water into the sink and place your large preserving pan, containing the milk, down into the sink. Keep a boiled kettle close by to top up the water in the sink as and when required. This is a gentle way of heating your milk and perfect for periods during the cheese making procedure when the curds are forming **

Q. Can you tell me if its possible to store cheddar cheese and camembert together whilst they are maturing? I have a fridge that has been adapted to store at any temperature required.  From Jo Adams

A. Yes, it is possible. The camembert needs a higher humidity than the cheddar, but if it is kept on a rack, in a box, it can be stored wit the cheddar.

Q. Help! A month ago I made my first cheddar using your fantastic cheese kit and everything went according to plan. I've turned my cheese correctly kept the humidity and the white mallow mould had been developing at a slow steady rate, I did have a few spots of kitten hair mould which I rubbed with brine which got rid of it. All was going great until today, checked the cheese and both the top and bottom are bright illuminous yellow. Is my cheese ruined? From Sara

A. This sounds like a bacteria called Pseudomonas Fluorescens, which is a water contaminant, and produces a fluorescent yellow colour action when it grows. It is a spoilage organism and will rot the cheese. If on the ends, then you can trim that off and retreat to get a good rind. The growth of P. Fluorescens indicates the humidity of the ends of the cheese has been too high, storage on a rack, rather than a solid shelf will help, as will turning more frequently.

 

Q. I would like to know how cheese was made in the olden days. I live in South Africa and my children need to do a project on cheese making in the 17th Century. I can't seem to find any recipes. Thank you. From Mirma

A. As far as we know, cheese making on farm in the Tudor - Victorian era, followed the same pattern. Evening milk was put into low pans and left to settle overnight. Because the milk was warm from the cow, the fat rose quickly to the surface, and the milk also started to go sour, as the bacteria in the milk grew. The next day, if required, the fat was skimmed from the surface of the pans and could be made into butter, or kept for cream or cream cheese. The remaining milk, now containing abour 2% fat, was mixed with the mornings milk and rennet added. When the milk had clotted, the curds were broken up, placed in a cloth and hung to drain for a while, before being further broken, salted and placed in a mould and pressed. The cheese surface was rubbed with butter or lard when the cheese came out of the press and the cheese stored, being regularly turned, until eaten. There are some handwritten recipes existing from the 17th century Britain, generally these are found in historical records offices.

 

Q. I have purchased a variety of cultures, rennet etc from your company and have been making cheeses successfully for the last few weeks. However I am experiencing a problem when making Haloumi, the first batch I made was a bit too fragile, the second batch delicious. Since then I have attempted twice with the same problem - the rennet is not setting the milk at the initial stage. I have double checked that the milk is full cream and nonhomogenised. Could the rennet have lost its oomph??? From Mandy

A. It is most unlikely to be a problem with the rennet. I've had a number of similar enquires this year, and it appears to be a milk issue. Milk proteins are very variable, and this season appears to be more than usually fragile in some cases. I suggest you try buying skimmed milk and double cream, instead of whole milk. Combine them at the ratio of 12 parts skim to 1 part double cream. I'm using this myself at the moment, and with a supermarket supply; its going OK.

 

Q. What should I purchase to put a "rind" on the cheese to store it safely. In supermarkets some cheeses have a grey hard coating. I do have wax but would like to try a different method. From Bert

A. Most traditional cheeses in supermarkets have been bandaged throughout their lives. Moulds will grow on the bandage, and when the bandage is removed, the colour of the mould can be left behind. This is not always grey, so you may be referring to a specific cheese, in which case more info is required. To make a rind on a hard cheese requires good pressing, a smooth unbroken coat to the cheese, storage at the right temperature and humidity, with regular attention to turning, mite control etc, which is outside the scope for most home cheese makers. I would recomend waxing instead.

 

Q. Just before Christmas I made a 'Traditional Cheddar' following the Ricki Carroll book I got from you when ordering my first cheese makig kit. Rather than waxing the cheese I have vacuum packed them which has proved to work quite well. However on the cheddar I can now see small areas of green mould appearing. Is this normal or do I need to take action now before it sets in? From Patrick

A.Vacuum packing initially removes all oxygen from the pack, and mould is not able to grow without oxygen. Depending on the quality of the vacuum bag, and seal, oxygen may make its way back into the pack, when mould will grow. The best thing to do is open the pack, remove, by curtting away, mould, and revacuuming.

 

Q. I have recently made a cheese which developed a 'slimy defect' on its surface after brining. I have been able to find out about the need of CaCl in the brine to prevent this, but is my cheese spoiled or can it be salvaged It has since dry up, but remains somewhat tacky on the surface.According to the recipe it would have to waxed soon. From Thomas

A. Slimy cheese out of brine is usually caused by the pH of the cheese being different to the pH of the brine. When making up brine initially, the pH should be lowered to around pH5.0. The cheese will dry out if kept in a slightly lower humidity environment, otherwise it could remain slimy.

 

Q. Can I make every type of cheese with my kids kit? From Robert

A. No sorry Robert. The Kids Kit is a very good cheese kit for children to start with as other cheeses can be quite difficult. You will be able to make curd cheeses using any kind of milk. The nice thing about curd cheese is that you can add anything you like to the curds to make it tast really good. Put the 3 free starters that came with your kids kit in the freezer and when you feel ready, have a go at making a Creme frache/Mascarpone, Mozzarella or Yogurt.

 

Q. Could you tell me how I could add beer to cheese preferably cheddar. I own a small brewery in West Wales so we make bitters, lagers, stouts and cider and I want to try my hand at cheese but I want something I could sell in the future. Thanks. From Marcus

A. There are two ways in which beer can be combined with cheese. 1. Using mature cheese, like cheddar, break up the cheese into small pecies, and add beer (and often pickle, or pickled onions) reform and repress the cheese. This is how the majority of flavoured cheeses are made. This cheese can be made to order. 2. Rind wash the cheese in beer, generally small cheeses (2kg or thereabout), washed in a beer solution, with 3% salt added, twice a week, being kept in 100% humidity, on racks, to end up with a very smelly, but tasty, cheese. This can be done with a variety of cheese types, for example, Stinking Bishop is a semi soft cheese washed in a perry made from stinking bishop pears. Caerphilly is often rind washed.

 

Q. Thanks for your cheese making goodies. However, I think you need to be careful, as you might get a health and safety complaint. Soon the government will be making you write " WARNING: CHEESE MAKING CAN BE VERY ADDICTIVE " on all of your products! I would like to start making some hard cheeses, and want to buy one of your presses. However, I noticed the cheese presses on your site don't seem to have a guage on them. Is this true? If not, how do you figure out how much pressure you are applying? Also, they don't come with followers. Do you suggest people make their own? From Bill

A. Our presses do come with a pressure guage on the instruction sheet that we recommend copying to a piece of card or plastic. The M3 (0070) is a hard cheese mould suitable for the small press, turning out roughly 1kg cheese. The M5 (0071) follwers are sold separately because you maybe able to improvise making your own. Worth a shot! Sorry to hear about your addiction - remember, you are not alone!

 

Q. If I purchase a cheese kit for £110 how much cheese can I produce from this kit before I need to replace some or all of the contents. I don't want to make cheese that is costing me £30 per kilo if I can buy it for £10 per kilo from a cheese supplier, even though I would prefer to make my own. from Joe

A. To produce a 1kg hard cheese you will be adding one fifth of a sachet of MA400, and 40 drops (2ml) rennet. In relation to the milk the quantities of starter and rennet are tiny, and these are the only two items in the kit you will need to replace. Perhaps the cheesecloth too, but after many washes. 'An Introduction to Cheesemaking at Home' by Christine Ashby is an excellent booklet giving step by step instructions, equipment and ingredients needed as well as conversion charts. Chris is also on hand to give further technical help when needed. So just to recap; potentially up to 5 x 1kg hard cheeses from 1 sachet of MA400 starter, with 30 x 1kg hard cheeses from 60ml rennet.

 

Q. I'm happily working my way through various recipes - made gouda, a cheddar, a blue cheese and various soft cheeses. Currently ripening are some Camamberts following your last advice. My recipe for Cheshire says use aroma mesophilic culture, which the books says has an added lactic bacterium. I use the starter on your web site MA400. Will this do the job? From Owen

A. Yes, use at least double the amount used for cheddar, that is 1 sachet for 25 litres of milk

 

Q. I have been making cheese a little while and decided to attempt my favourite cheese, Camembert! It looked right, the mould on the outside was lovely and white and fury .. but there was whey draining from it which was a very surprising fluorescent yellow colour! This of course stained the white fur growth and made it look very unappetising. Can you please advise, is this normal? Could I have eaten it? From Louise

A. A fluorescent yellow colour is usually associated with a water bourne bacterium, Pseudomonas. It is not considered a pathogen, but a spoilage organism, and produces off flavours. Could be due to poor sterilisation, or poor water supply, either in milk production, or cheese making. Sterilise all equipment, and rinse with cooled, boiled water before use to eliminate the organism. If it persists, it could be the milk, which should be pasteurised before use.

 

Q. We're new to this but have made a couple of batches each of soft and hard cheeses, following your instructions and kit. Delighted with the results. We're using our own organic Ayrshire milk and it's great. The current batch (8 litres) I want to treat with Penicillium Candidum, which is currently unopened in the freezer. Can I measure it out into ice cube trays with the water same as the MA400 starter? From Eileen

A. Best to overdose the P.Candidum, and don't try freezing in ice cubes, as it is a different organism to the MA400 starter. Just mix well and use about a fifth of the quantity in each batch, no matter if that is supposedly too much.

 

Q. Here is perhaps a really simple question that you might be able to answer. I purchased an American cheese making book and they discuss cheese salt. Could you please advise as to what cheese salt is, what it does and where it might be purchased? From Tracy

A. For home cheese making, ordinary fine cooking/table salt is perfect and there is no need to purchase 'cheese salt'.

 

Q. Hi there, I'm just about to embark on my first cheese making! I've read in Ricki Carroll's book (which is fantastic) that you can use calcium chloride to counteract the effects of the homogenisation process but can you tell me how much to use and when to add it please? From Penny

A. In fact, calcium chloride only helps, it can't reform damaged casein micelles. Don't use homogensed milk, but if you can't get non-homogenised milk (a milkman often can deliver), then buy skimmed milk and double cream, and combine to a ratio of 12 parts skimmed milk to 1 part double cream. This makes a much better cheese than using CaC12.

 

Q. Hi. I have recently bought some annatto from you but cannot find out when to use it and how much to use. Please could you advise me? - I am making it from your hard cheese recipe that comes with the kit. From Dave

A. For Red Leicester 1ml/1ltr and Double Gloucester 1ml/4ltrs. Annatto should be added to the milk at least 15 minutes before renneting, and thoroughly stirred in. Large amounts of annatto will disturb rennet action.

 

Q. Could you tell me how I can achieve the correct humidity when maturing hard cheddar type cheese. I am a complete beginner and have read that a % humidity is required. How can I get this and how can I measure it? From Jayne

A. Humidity control is difficult on a small scale. Hard rinded cheese need about 80% humidity, in a fridge the humidity is probably less than 50%. An additional issue is the air movement, firdges tend to have rapid air movement, because of the fan, and this tends to crack the cheese. Probably best to put the cheese on a plate, standing in a larger dish. Put water in the dish, and drape a damp teatowel over the cheese so the ends are in the water. Turn the cheese twice weekly, and wipe off any mould which forms. A thermohygrometer measures temperature and humidity, a small battery operated one is about £25 from laboratory suppliers.

 

Q. I've had about three goes at making a stilton cheese at around 4lbs per go and used two recipes. I've avoided pressing the curd at any stage and followed each recipe closely, filling in the gaps left after milling the curds and filling the mould with a knife. After maturing for 5-6 months, although the taste of the cheese is stilton, the curd is hard and not soft and creamy as you would expect from silton. Please can you give me any pointers where things might be going wrong? From Keith

A. A large (7kg) stilton is only 8-10 weeks old at point of sale, the smaller (2kg) stiltons probably 6 weeks, and they will continue to dry out. A 5-6 months (20-26 weeks) stilton is 3/4 times older and is bound to be dry, particularly since it is only 4lbs to start with. Good news in a way, as you wont need to wait so long before you can eat it!

 

Q. I have just made my first batch of hard cheese using the recipe and equipment you sent. It is a modest 800g thing but mine own. I have nowhere falling in the 8-12C range where I can mature it. What are the extreme tolerances I can reasonably use? I currently have it in the top of a fridge, as high as risk of food poisoning for the rest of the family's food will tolerate! From Bill

A. Top of fridge is probably around 8/10C, so thats fine, but it is drying in a fridge, so the cheese needs to be kept dampish.

 

Q. I am a novice to cheese making and was wondering if I will be able to use UTH skimmed milk? Also do you have to use rennet to achieve a hard cheese? If so will vegetarian rennet work with the skimmed milk? From Sian

A. Rennet won't work with any UHT milk, but will with any non homogenised pasteurised milk, including skimmed. Skimmed milk does not make a decent hard cheese, neither does semi-skimmed, there needs to be a reasonable amount of fat in the cheese to make the cheese palatable, and to mature properly. A curd cheese can be dried out to make a hard cheese, not using rennet, but it is not a normal way to make hard cheese. Starters and rennet together are necessary for all well known hard cheeses.

 

* A Moorlands customer has found a web site where you can buy double boilers at competitive prices, and as if that wasn't enough, has very kindly shared the information with everyone. www.easyequipment.com and search 'double boilers'. Thank you very much Ian *

 

Q. I am just about to embark into the world of home cheese making, so please excuse my ignorance when I ask about the term 'risk of phage', that I came across whilst reading through your listings. I would like to know what it is please? From Simon

A. Fast acid cheesemakes, such as cheddar and related types require the starter bacteria to grow quickly to produce acid. If bacteriophage (known as phage, a virus which attacks bacteria) is present, then the rate of acidification can be severely reduced, producing poor quality cheeses. Home cheese makers, making a cheese weekly, for example, will not be at risk. Factories making several vats a day will be at risk. Starter rotation is a mechanism for reducing the risk.

 

Q. I am a home cheese maker. I recently made some curds for a hard cheese. After letting the curds drain overnight at 22-25C I noticed the curds had develpoed an internal honeycomb structure, not noticed before. Does this happen occasionally or is there the possibility of a yeast or coliform bacteria contamination. There was no unusual odor to the curds. I bake my own sourdough bread and keep my own sourdough culture in the fridge in a sealed container and the utensils used for cheese making are different from those used in my bread making. I had not recently made bread in the kitchen. Will the cheese be safe to eat? From Keith

A. This texture means gas production in quantity, which could be yeasts or coliforms. Testing is the only way to tell, and incase it is the latter, I would not eat the curd.

 

Q. I am looking forward to entering this years Cheese Awards. As an amateur home cheese maker can you define more clearly what the following categories mean please. 'Fresh Cheese'? Using Katie Thear's book, 'Cheesemaking and Dairying', would a Caerphilly cheese be in the 'Semi-Soft' category and the Lancashire cheese in the 'Hard Cheese' category? Also, what happens to the cheese after they have been judged. Are they disposed of or can they be returned? I would have to post my entries to you. Do you accept items sent by Royal Mail Special delivery? From Keith

A. 'Fresh Cheese' is cheese which is made and eaten without any ripening, usually within a few days of making, and kept in the fridge at low temperature until eaten. 'Semi-Soft' are generally at the firm end of soft, things like Port Salut. Caerphilly and Lancashire, under this classification are both hard cheeses. They sometimes are called 'Semi-Soft' but lets not go down that route, makes things far too complicated. Its not worth returning fresh cheese and by the time your entries have been thoroughly ironed, and in bits, returning them isn't really viable. Sorry. Actually, most of the entries last year arrived by 'Standard' first or second class Royal Mail.

 

Q. I came on your site to order rennet but was distracted by the various cultures. My boyfriend cannot eat yoghurt because the bacteria normally used upsets his stomach. He once was given a samlpe of yoghurt ice cream made using a different strain of bacteria, and this was ok - but he cannot, unfortunately, remember the name of the bacterium used. I've been trying to find out where I can get the un-common yoghurt cultures so I can make yoghurt that he can eat. I would be very grateful if you could help me with this, please. From Ailwyn

A. All yogurts, including the base for frozen yogurt, are made using the same base bacteria with additions for bio, propiotic, etc. What was the frozen yogurt made from? If the base has been UHT'd, then all the yogurt organisms have been killed prior to the making of the frozen yogurt. It is possible to buy yogurts where the product has been sterilised, and the yogurt bacteria killed. If the yogurt is in the chiller cabinet, then the yogurt bacteria are live. If the yogurt is not in the chiller cabinet, then the likelihood is the product is shelf stable, and sterile, and the organisms dead. These types are not made in the UK, but imported and are called pasteurised yogurts.

 

Q. Where can we buy non homogenised milk apart from Sainsbury's? 50% of existing customers.

A. Moorlands are very pleased to be able to offer a comprhensive list of licensed milk purchasers and suppliers in the UK. On the 'Approved Purchasers' page you will find suppliers more than happy to sell you milk, in any quantity, direct from their farm or smallholding. They appear in alphabetical order. Some of this milk may have been pasteurised but NONE will have been homogenised. We hope you find this information useful, as the demand for non homogenised milk increases.

 

Q. What is non-homogenised milk? From hundreds of people, worldwide!!

A. Homogenisation is a mechanical process that reduces the size of the fat globules in milk, so the cream does not rise to the top, as sold by supermarkets. Homogenised milk will not clot successfully with rennet. If using supermarket milk for cheese making, buy skimmed milk and double cream. Combine them in a ratio of 12 parts skimmed milk to 1 part double cream.Non-homogenised milk has not been through this process and would be equivalent to 'Gold Top' the milkman leaves and milk straight from the cow. *Sainsbury's do a Gold Top Guernsey milk*

 

Q. I am making a cheddar cheese, using very fresh milk (cow), after about two months mould spots appear in the cheese. Any ideas? From Mr Drew, France

A. Mould growth is perfectly normal, and the quantity will depend on the humidity and temperature of the storage conditions. The mould will be local to you and harmless. Oiling the cheese with vegetable oil on a regular basis, as required, can limit the mould growth but the vast majority of Farmhouse Cheddar in the UK have some mould growth on their rinds.

 

Q. I was wondering if you have any tips for washing cheese. I have made a small semi soft brie style cheese and would like to give it a wash, possibly in some beer?. From Ross

A. You can wash any cheese, though it is easier with harder rather than softer types, if too soft the cheeses are difficult to handle. Generally a washing solution contains the bacteria Brevibacteria Linens, which can be bought as a culture or used from a previously washed cheese, in a 3% salt solution. If you want to incorporate anything else, like the beer you mention, then use about 10%. Smear the cheese with the solution, using a sponge or cloth, and store the cheese on a rack in a sealed box with water in the base, so the cheese stays damp, in a temperature of about 12C. Wash the cheese twice a week for 3 weeks at least, putting the solution in the fridge between washes. Initially the cheese will go sticky, before the bacterial coat grows, that's perfectly normal. Once established, wrap the cheese in a camembert wrapping paper, to allow gas to exchange, and continue to ripen at 12C until ripe to your satisfaction.

 

Q.We have recently (1 week ago) had our first try at home made hard cheese. But we have a problem even though all the instructions were followed to the letter. During the first weeks drying process the cheese developed mould growing on the underside. When I cut it open it looked and smelled just like Stilton; problem is it was supposed to be a Double Gloucester !! Any ideas why this should have happened?. From Steve

A. When the cheese is pressed it needs to have a completely smooth coat, without any cracks or breaks. Mould will grow inside the cheese if oxygen gets inside. The cheese must be regularly turned to dry the surface out all over, if left on one end too long, that end becomes wet and will support mould growth.

 

Q. I wonder if you can answer a question for me about maturing cheese? I think I'm right in saying the main reason for waxing cheese is to keep away airborne moulds, if this is true, would it do the same thing by vacuum sealing in bags? I use a vacuum sealer to preserve other foods, such as meat and veg, and just wondered if it would do the same for cheese? From Brian

A. Yes, most cheeses are matured in vacuum bags, it does work for cheeses.

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