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Salt in Cheesemaking
You may have noticed that salt is called for in most cheese recipes, sometimes termed “cheese salt," and sometimes large quantities are required to make a brine or a rub. What exactly is cheese salt? Is it the only salt that can be used in the making of cheese, and what, if any, other kinds of salt can be substituted in these cheese recipes?
Why do I need salt?
Salt is not used merely for flavor enhancement during the cheesemaking process. Salt is a natural preservative and helps to prepare your cheese for aging. Salt is important in a number of cheesemaking steps: it adds to the flavor of the cheese, it helps to dry the curds during draining by controlling moisture and causing the curds to shrink, it is essential in the development of a good rind, and will help to kill bacteria and other harmful growth when used as a brine.
What is cheese salt?
Cheese salt is merely a salt that is non-iodized, because iodized salt harms and inhibits bacterial growth and well-being that is essential to any good cheesemaking. Iodized salt can also slow the aging process down drastically. Sometimes cheese salt comes in flakes rather than in grains, because flakes are more easily dissolved and absorbed. So, will any non-iodized salt work in cheesemaking? Sure! But you will probably do better finding a coarse-ground sea salt, rather than just using non-iodized table salt, because it will be unbleached and will add fewer chemicals into your cheese.
Using cheese salt
One thing to keep in mind if you are using a coarser-ground salt is that this will require extra care when making brines, because it dissolves more slowly. It is essential that you dissolve as much salt as you can into your brine, because this determines the final taste and overall outcome of your cheese. A fully-saturated brine will not always be fully dissolved, but the lesser saturated brines should be attended to with carefulness.
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