Originally Posted by adamziegler
Wow... great info. I have been trying to make cheese off and on for the past 8 months or so with mixed results. I came across the cheese forum here yesterday, and already have learned quite a bit.
Found a different brand of milk yesterday from a different store... I will try that this morning to see what happens.
Brewmonger... I did not add calcium chloride. I will pick up some later today at the local home brew shop.
Last night I also found a local supply of raw milk about 20 minutes from here. I am just waiting for a reply back on the cost.
If you are using raw milk you don't need to add calcium chloride, although I suppose it can't hurt, it probably won't do as much. I have never added CaCl only because I have always used raw milk. With pastuerized milk it is neccessary because the protiens are slightly denatured and the calcium is less bio-available. (Calcium is critical to the formation of curd)
If you are getting raw milk from a farm, don't be afraid to ask some hard questions about their animal husbandry practices.
Start with an easy question: What breeds do you have, and how big is your herd?
Are the cows on pasture? If so, do you use a rotational grazing system, or is it just a single pasture paddock? What percent of their diet is fresh forage during the grazing season, and what percent is hay? (Hay is good, but not as good as fresh grass and clover)
Do you feed them any sillage? (Sillage is bad... but if they only feed it during the winter just don't buy the milk during the winter)
Do you feed any grain at all (it is not uncommon to feed them a small amount during milking... but too much can be a problem) Do you feed them soy? (Soy is bad, but a small amount during milking is acceptable)
Questions about the milk:
Do you test the raw milk for coliforms and pathogens? How often? (once every month or so is OK, as long as the results are coming back negative)
What is your typical butterfat and protien %? (useful for cheese making and estimating yields -- a high ratio of butterfat to protien is better for soft cheeses, for harder cheeses you want more protien so it might be neccessary to skim some of the cream if it is particularily rich)