Most cheesemaking recipes require you to add non-iodized salt. You can rub it into your mixture or soak it through a brine, depending on the variety that you are creating.
Having salt as part of the cheesemaking process ensures that leftover liquid whey gets drawn out of the product. It similarly preserves the curds to how it cures meat. When you have enough sodium at the correct solution ratio, undesirable growth gets prevented.
Giving finished cheese a salt brine bath is a typical recipe instruction. Varieties that ripen quickly often need this step to get the even coverage you require.
The problem that most people have, including experienced cheesemakers, is to create the proper brine solution ratio that works well for the cheese.
What Does It Take to Create a Brine?
A saltwater brine is ineffective unless it has a concentration level of at least 18%. Anything less than that will not provide an accurate curing process that keeps unwanted growth away.
Your cheese recipe should tell you what brine concentration to use for your cheese. How you achieve that percentage is often left to guesswork.
That’s why these common solution ratios can help you achieve the results you want from your cheesemaking efforts.
An 18% brine concentration is achievable when you add 1kg of salt to 5L of water.
When you need a 20% concentration, you’ll need 1.3kg of salt.
If your cheesemaking recipe requires a higher concentration, continue adding an additional 0.2kg of salt to your 5L of base water to create what you need. You can follow that ratio up to 90% saturation solutions successfully.
A saturated brine pulls surface moisture from the cheese quickly. It may cause a firm rind to form that prevents salt update, impacting the product’s surface in unwanted ways. That’s why following this pathway to a successful ratio is a crucial part of the process.
How Can I Know If I Have a Saturated Brine?
Unless you have testing equipment at home that can show the percentage of sodium in your brine, determining an exact rate is closer to a guessing game than an exact science.
There are some ways to tell if you’ve reached the correct level of saturation.
1. Your cheese should float in the brine solution. If the product sinks to the bottom of the container, you need to add more salt to the fluid.
2. You see salt creep forming along the edges of your jar, pot, or container as it has time to settle.
3. The salt you’ve added to the fluid no longer mixes, creating a crust at the bottom of the container.
Storing your brine follows a similar process that cheese needs for a successful outcome. When you keep it at temperatures around 10°C, absorption happens more readily. You’ll pull the right levels of moisture out while creating a rind.
When it gets too cold, it may leave moisture behind, while a hot brine may nurture additional bacteria.