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Making cheese at home: Saltier than the Red Sea

Making cheese at home: Saltier than the Red Sea

To protect cheese and for flavour salt is added. On some cheeses it is added to the outside or to the curds.

In other recipes the cheeses will be put in brine. The salt will slowly dissolve in the cheese.

The salt removes water from the rind and makes the environment less attractive to bacteria. Adding salt increases the shelf life of cheeses.

The mother culture will also be affected and the cheese becomes less sour.

Since the salt decreases the size of the curd particles it also changes the structure.




In the literature it is advised to use salt without iodine because it is supposed to be bad for the cheese bacteria. I have made cheese with normal table salt and it worked fine. I am not sure if this is a real problem or just a cheese myth.

After reading a few books and some research on the internet I decided for the following brine solution:

  • 2 liter water,
  • 27 gram CalciumChloride solution 33%
  • 500 gram salt


It is no exact science. A few grams here and there are no problem. To check the brine a brine scale is used. I don't have one but it is in fact a hydrometer with a different scale. So why not use the hydrometer for wine? The S.G. of the solution is 1155.

During the time in the brine Calcium leeches out of the cheese. ClaciumChloride is added to the brine to decrease this effect.

The solution can be used several times and improves because the "Calcium Leak" becomes smaller when several cheeses have leaked their Calcium.

Obviously you have to add salt to the brine to replace the salt used in the cheeses.


So far everything was clear.



Here is where it all went wrong!


I am a big fan of smelly cheeses like Munster. Love it!


These cheeses acquire their “aroma” by Brevibacterium Linens. This bacterium thrives on feet and in moist conditons.

Therefore the recipe for Munster mentions that you should wash it every 2 days with a brine solution.

Which I did without the expected result. The rind of the cheese should become muddy. And smelly. The cheese turned yellow but it dried out. The bacterium did not live.

The cheese was horrible. Way to salty! No surprise that the bacteria died.

And there was the problem. There is brine, and there is brine.

The solution for cleaning is a lot weaker than the solution described above. After this mistake I use a solution of 1 teaspoon in a cup of water to clean cheeses. Then you will have the horrible yellow mud on on your cheese. It is hard to believe that this is the way it should be but that slimy, smelly goo is what want on your cheese.



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