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Brining Cheese

by Alberta Rager
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The primary reason cheese is salted is to slow down or stop the bacteria process of converting lactose to lactic acid. During the brining process, most of the lactose is removed. If the cheese were not salted, the residual moisture within the cheese contains enough lactose to produce more acid than is ideal for proper ripening. The secondary purpose is for added flavor.

Salting cheese also pulls moisture from the surface, properly drying it out for rind development. It also inhibits the growth of a variety of molds that are attracted to cheese.

To prepare a brine solution, mix the following ingredients in non reactive pan:

1 gallon water
2.25 pounds salt
1 tablespoon Calcium Chloride
1 teaspoon White Vinegar

When cheese is done being pressed, it should be moved to a cool location so the temperature can drop to the same temperature as the brine solution. Brining warm cheese will increase the rate of salt absorption resulting in over salting. Once cooled, place the cheese into the salt brine solution.

You'll know that you have enough salt in the brine if it no longer dissolves when adding more salt. A cheese brine is what is typically called a saturated brine strength.

The density of the brine will cause the cheese to float. So, the top surface of the cheese will float above the brine. Therefore the top surface of the cheese will need to be salted. Sprinkle a small amount of salt on the top surface of the cheese. This salt will create its own brine as it mixes with the surface moisture of the cheese.

Half way through the brining process the cheese should be flipped and re-salted for an even brine.

Different cheese densities and shapes will require varying amounts of time in the brine. A general rule is one hour per pound, per one inch thickness of cheese. A very dense, low moisture cheese like Parmesan will require more time than a moist open textured cheese.

Once the cheese has been brined, it should be drained and allowed to air dry while turning for 1-3 days or until a firm, dry surface is observed. After drying, the cheese will be ready for waxing or the development of a natural rind.

This article was published on Tuesday September 04, 2018.
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