It seems like yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, and a whole variety of cheeses use mesophillic cultures to turn milk to cheese. It also seems like there has to be some way to make cheese without buying those little packages of powdered culture – I mean we have had cheese for thousands of years before we had big brown trucks to deliver the cultures.
I have been researching and found how extremely simple mesophillic Cheese Starter is to make at home.
This recipe uses a home freezer, but I heard of an anecdotal story of how some eastern Europeans snuck their favorite yogurt cultures into the country through Ellis Island. It seems like the federal workers would open the jars of starter culture that our ancestors tried to import with them, smelled the yeastiness and threw the jars out.
After this became known to those planning to immigrate, one particularly resourceful lady dipped several of her lace heirlooms in the culture and let it dry. The inspectors did not notice the bacteria dried on the cloth and when she settled in her new country, she simply dipped the lace in some warm milk and let the bacteria inoculate it.
Our process is a lot simpler. All you need is a measuring cup, and ice cube tray, and some cultured buttermilk.
You see cultured buttermilk contains a small amount of mesophillic bacteria, just not enough to really get a cheese going, but if you set about 2 cups worth out in a warm room for 8-10 hours the bacteria takes off and soon thickens the buttermilk and gives it a distinctive yeast smell.
If you take this thick buttermilk and pour it into a clean ice tray and freeze it each cube is the equivalent of once ounce of mesophillic culture.
When you are ready to make cheese, simply drop one of these cubes in your milk and let it do it’s thing.
Just make sure to keep a couple of ice cubes back so you can use it to make more culture later. Once you get low you can just dump once of your culture cubes in some milk and let it sit until it is thick.