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Starter-cultures. Introducing to making milk products


Ritual of eating cheese is part of a culture process. And cheese is made from… culture, but in a different meaning. Here you find a couple pieces of information about bacteria and the first steps of making milk products.


Did you ever hear the catchy name “L.casei” in yoghurt' commercial? Supposedly these defender force was created by famous producer to support your health and safe organism from diseases. Don’t believe in each word. It's just another bacteria, which full name is lactobacillus. One of the many, many types. They all makes a big family of lactic acid bacteria group. Why lactobacillus exist?



These bacteria have a positive influence on human body function. As common probiotic (selected live microorganism) restore gut flora. In lactic acid fermentation process most of bacteria may convert milk sugars to lactic acid. It help to separate milk into solid curds and liquid whey. All right, but what is the benefit of using lactic acid fermentation and how starters-culture we can apply in producing homemade cheese, yoghurt or kefir?


Cheese culture


Bacteria are significant for cheese. Starter cultures aid in the development, preservation of the flavor of the cheese during cheese making. Also, it supports the process of ripening. To make cheese, milk is instilled with bacteria. The bacteria devour the lactose. It's a kind of sugar, which produce lactic acid, along with many other chemicals. As the milk gets more and more acidic, its protein starts to aggregate and curdle. That's why spoiled milk is clumpy.


Cheesemakers add rennet - a complex of enzymes found in mammals' stomachs, usually used to set the cheese more firmly than the fragile curds produced only by acidic coagulation. Eventually, those little curdles turn into bigger curds, which are pressed to squeeze out the water and create a firm cheese. Different strains of bacteria make different kinds of cheese. Brie and camembert use not bacteria, but mold. Making cheese require using very clean milk, and take several attempts to reach an ideal flavor.


Yoghurt culture


Bacteria are key ingredient for yoghurt, which has thousands of types of this probiotic aiding digestion. While you produce yoghurt, first step is sterilizing and pasteurizing milk to kill any bad bacteria and other microorganisms. Then natural mammals milk is homogenized, so breaks down the fat droplets. Obviously, when you buy milk in a store, you have all these processes behind you.



Now it’s time to add yoghurt bacteria, for example lactoferm yoghurt culture. It contain two types of lactic acid bacteria - streptococcus and also lactobacillus. Stir one minute. Mixture needs to be cooled first to 47 °C, so that bacteria aren’t killed by the high temperature. Whole process takes 6-8 hours, but it depend on temperature of milk. As fermentation produces lactic acid, the pH of the milk drops to about pH 4.4. This is why natural yoghurt has a sharp tangy taste.


Another type of tasty milk product, which you can make in home is kefir. What’s the difference to yoghurt? Kefir adds more nutrients to the body. So it is natural probiotic? Indeed. It’s a lot of connection between your gut and your brain. Increase tryptophan, which is amino acid, that helps sleeping, cognitive states.  Really! Kefir is made from many new strains of bacteria and yeasts in addition. This basic knowledge should be enough for beginners. Kits aren’t so expensive and making cheese, yoghurt or kefir in home is really good fun and good for your gut. Bon appetit!

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