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Old 04-16-2009, 07:14 PM   #1
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Default What brands of store-bought milk work for making cheese?

Not all of us have easy access to farm-fresh milk. My first two attempts at making cheese flopped because I didn't realize you can't use any ultra-pasteurized milk. I ended up with a rather flavorless and mushy ricotta instead of the nice firm cheese I was expecting. Lesson learned -- always check the label and buy a quality brand. Many, many brands -- even organic ones -- are UP since it extends the shelf life, and the high temp denatures the milk proteins.

I did some research and bought a gallon of Whole Foods 365 brand milk since it is HTST pasteurized and will give it a try to make Mozzarella this weekend.

What brands of milk have worked for other folks? Or failed to make good cheese?

As folks reply to the thread I'll update this post to maintain a list here. Please include the type(s) of cheese you made since some milks may be good for some types of cheese but not others.

Known to work:
Swiss Premium (mozzarella and ricotta)
Farmers' All Natural Creamery
Giant Eagle Pasteurized (mozzarella with calcium chloride)
Whole Foods 365 Organic (mozzarella with calcium chloride)
Central Market Organic (mozzarella)
Albertson's (mozzarella) (check the label to be sure it isn't ultra-pasteurized since that may vary depending on market location)
Rhody Fresh (Rhode Island) (mozzarella)
Borden Pasteurized in gallon jugs
Wegman's Organic
Spartan (mozz with calcium chloride)
Publix + calcium chloride
Kroger + calcium chloride
Trader Joes Organic

Known NOT TO WORK:
Any milk labeled "ultra-pasteurized", this includes almost all organic brands!
Horizon Organic (some work, some do not, it is not worth a ruined batch so don't try!)

Tip! Try 1% or 2% and add a pint of heavy cream along with a teaspoon of calcium chloride per gallon. The texture of the resulting cheese will be much nicer, since not all of the milk fat will be homogenized.

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Old 04-16-2009, 07:16 PM   #2
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Works: Swiss Premium (mozzarella and ricotta).

Haven't attempted any hard cheeses yet, but will report back.

As an aside, I've never seen an organic milk that hasn't been UP.

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Old 04-16-2009, 08:01 PM   #3
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My first two attempts at making cheese flopped because I didn't realize you can't use any ultra-pasteurized milk.
Holy crap, I did not know this! I'm just thinking about making my own cheeses and I though I could use any store bought milk... The stuff from my store just says Grade A, Pasteurized, homogenized. That means I'm ok to use it, right?
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:06 PM   #4
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I made some mozzarella with Natures Promise (I think) Organic milk from the grocery store. Mozzarella turned out ok, tasted good, but melted weird on pizza. I think i was a little aggressive when kneading it, but it seemed to work. In any case, it said Pasteurized (not ultra) on the label. I am curious as well to find some that does not cost 6.50 a gallon for milk to try again.

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Old 04-16-2009, 08:16 PM   #5
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Nearly all organic milk is ultra pasteurized because it significantly extends the shelf life of the product allowing a national or broad regional distribution. The short shelf life of pasteurized milk means the plant usually only distributes over a small regional area. Because organic milk is a limited market and required certification by both the packaging plant and the farmers most regional packagers do not handle it leaving the market to a few national brands. As the market for organic milk increases I have seen more brands including local ones become available.
Our local grocery carries an organic milk that is pasteurized but not homogenized or ultra pasteurized. It is sold in half gallon glass jars. It is also very expensive.

Once I know I can make decent cheese with cheaper conventional milk I will give the local organic milk a try. At this point it is too expensive for my experiments.

On the other hand I have read that you can make yogurt without the normally required heating to near boiling when you use UP milk.

Craig

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Old 04-16-2009, 08:26 PM   #6
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So for those of you who have tried Ultra-pasteurized milk for mozarella, what was the result? The curds that formed were tiny, but I attributed that to over aggressive stirring. I am a complete novice with 1 mediocre batch under my belt. Homemade anyway

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Old 04-16-2009, 11:09 PM   #7
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It is the homogenized milk that is more of a problem than pasteurized. Pasteurizing kills the micros but homogenizing breaks the butter fat particles into too small of pieces to make good cheese.

I found an organic brand that is pasteurized but not homogenized in my local HyVee store produced by Farmers’ All Natural Creamery.

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Old 04-16-2009, 11:15 PM   #8
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Ultra pasteurized milk just won't form a clean break, or give you proper curd formation. You can use dry milk and whipping cream (as a combo- a small amount of the cream) if you can't find any milk that isn't UP. The directions for that are in Rikki Carroll's book, and on the website, and in the directions for the 30 minute mozzarella.

For homogenized milk, it's recommended to add some calcium chloride to help "normalize" the protein. It's also recommended to use it in goat's milk, and I usually try to remember to do that. Goat's milk works great for me so far, but it's a bit different than cow's milk. One of the differences I've seen is that in regular milk, the cream rises to the top so you have to "top stir" it when you add the rennet. Goat's milk doesn't do that, as the cream seems to be all mixed up with the milk. I guess that's where the rich taste comes from.

You can use skim milk, for a lower fat cheese, or full fat milk, for a richer cheese.

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Old 04-17-2009, 12:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
For homogenized milk, it's recommended to add some calcium chloride to help "normalize" the protein. It's also recommended to use it in goat's milk, and I usually try to remember to do that. Goat's milk works great for me so far, but it's a bit different than cow's milk. One of the differences I've seen is that in regular milk, the cream rises to the top so you have to "top stir" it when you add the rennet. Goat's milk doesn't do that, as the cream seems to be all mixed up with the milk. I guess that's where the rich taste comes from.
What's the amount of calcium chloride recommended to add per gallon of milk for homogenized and goat milk?
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Old 04-17-2009, 12:49 AM   #10
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What's the amount of calcium chloride recommended to add per gallon of milk for homogenized and goat milk?
It's 1/4 tsp per 2 gallons. My solution is a liquid solution I got from cheesemaking.com and it's not labeled as to the cacl % in solution, so I'm following the package directions. To be honest, though, I haven't noticed much of a difference in my curd formation when I've forgotten it, although it may be different with homogenized milk (I've only ever used the goat's milk).
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