Like any process that involves culturing or fermentation, sanitization is extremely important to the cheese-making process. All of your utensils, cookware and even your hands need to be as clean and bacteria-free as possible in order to render an appetizing final product.
Having already covered the basics of cheese-making, milk selection, and the role of salt, we’re going to address sanitization today, before we move on to actual recipes next week.
Let’s get started.
What you want is an atomizer, like this. Fill it with water and a capful of bleach, and then just absolutely go to town in your kitchen. Spray that stuff on everything. Countertops, sinks, the knobs on our stove, drawer handles — anything you think you might touch at any point in this process needs to be sprayed with bleach.
Once you’ve drenched your kitchen in bleach, let it rest for a minute to do its thing, then wipe it off with paper towels. Keep the towels handy, so you can do some spot sanitization as you go.
Bleach is the best way to sanitize things like countertops and stoves, but your pots and metal utensils can be easily sanitized with boiling water. Start by hand-washing them with hot, soapy water. Rinse them with cold water. Then fill the pot you intend to use with clean water, throw in your utensils, and boil them.
Odds are, some of your utensils are made of wood or space-age plastics materials of unknown origin. There is a different way of sanitizing these things. That is to soak them in a 5-gallon bucket with a couple capfuls of bleach for 10 minutes. Then you want to rinse them quickly in cold water. Residual bleach can mess up your rennet.
Then keep that bucket on hand, so you can soak utensils during the process. Just make sure to always rinse them well in cold water before using them again.
Keep Your Area Clean
And we mean clean. Like, don’t even wear perfume or scented lotions or Aqua Net or anything of the sort while you’re making cheese. Keep pets out of the room. And wash your hands any time you touch something that hasn’t been sanitized.
Just remember that even tiny amounts of foreign bacteria can drastically alter the taste and texture of your final product. If you do nothing else correctly in this process, make sure to at least start with a properly sanitized work space, and get on your want to making some amazing cheese!