Blog_ThatTimeiFiguredoutwhatCalciumChlorideCouldDoForMyCheesemaking_12.11.15_Shannon_1

I’ve been making cheese now for a few months. These aren’t complicated, hard cheeses of which I’m still slightly frightened of. No, my go-to options are a soft chevre and a flavorful feta. I have been making both of these exclusively with fresh goat milk and so far it’s been fun to take on another DIY kitchen project.

It all started when I received the Goat Milk Cheese Kit. I love kits like this that take the fear out of DIYing it for the first time by assembling everything that you need. Everything in that kit was familiar and got me off to a great start.

Well, everything, that is, except the calcium chloride. I had heard some vague thing about this stuff long ago and kind of figured it was like putting together a bookshelf and having one extra screw when all is said and done. It’s working, right, so I’m probably not missing out on much.

That is until I talked to my friend Tracy who is an actual cheesemaker with actual experience who actually knew about this little bottle.

She came over one day and we were sorting through some of our Cultures for Health equipment and starters. When I came across the calcium chloride she told me what she remembered it being used for. Essentially, she said you add it to store-bought cow’s milk or goat milk to firm up the curd. Do you remember how I found my goat feta to be too soft to brine and couldn’t quite figure out why? Well, after some research I found out that indeed, calcium chloride is used to help firm up the curd of goat milk cheese.

Blog_ThatTimeiFiguredoutwhatCalciumChlorideCouldDoForMyCheesemaking_12.11.15_Shannon_2

According to this article from Curd Nerd

"But it’s not just store bought milk that can benefit from Calcium Chloride. If you are using Goat’s Milk for cheese making, particularly when making hard cheeses, you may need to add Calcium Chloride to get a firm curd as Goat’s milk goes through a natural homogenization process in the animal’s body and without CaCI2 it may produce a curd that is too weak to cut properly."

Continuing on in that particular article – and cross-referencing with other online sources, I believe Calcium Chloride is used in the cases of

  • Store-bought pasteurized milk which needs a boost in calcium.
  • Goat milk which may have lower calcium levels than cow’s milk.
  • Raw cow’s milk which may be deficient in the mineral due to poor feed quality.

It also seems that Calcium Chloride should be added only in small amounts – 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of milk – and mixed with the milk before beginning the cheesemaking process.

So maybe I could make some cheese without the calcium chloride but my feta and hard cheeses might improve because of it. Which leaves me only to try it out and see what happens next.