Making cheese at home can be challenging if your ingredient options are limited. The most important ingredient in cheesemaking is, of course, milk. Milk is processed in a variety of ways, and each type of processing affects the milk and the cheesemaking process differently. There are adjustments the home cheesemaker can employ to overcome some processing methods.
WHAT IS PASTEURIZED MILK?
The process of pasteurization treats the milk to kill any harmful bacteria. Milk can be heated to temperatures from 145°-212°F for various lengths of time, then immediately cooled to 39°F for storage and transportation. Pasteurized milk processed using any of these methods generally produces good results when cultured.
Ultra-pasteurized Milk (UP) or ultra-high temperature milk (UHT), is milk heated to 275°F or higher for about one second. Milk that has been ultra-pasteurized does not work well in cheesemaking because the proteins have been destabilized. As a result, the calcium in the milk does not bond properly to make a good curd.
Can I Adjust Ultra-Pasteurized Milk for Cheesemaking?
Raw milk or pasteurized milk should work well for cheesemaking.
There is really no way to compensate for milk whose proteins have been compromised by ultra-pasteurization, however. If raw or pasteurized milk is not available in your area, talk to the dairy manager at your local grocery store. He or she may be able to special-order pasteurized milk.
WHAT IS HOMOGENIZATION?
Homogenization is a way to make conventional milk smooth and creamy by forcing the milk through a nozzle that breaks down the fat globules. These smaller fat particles then remain suspended in the milk, so the cream does not separate and rise to the top as it does in non-homogenized milk. In cheesemaking, homogenization can lead to a softer, weaker curd and may cause difficulties in coagulation.
Can I Adjust Homogenized Milk for Cheesemaking?
If the cheese curds are too soft as a result of using homogenized milk, try one of the following adjustments: