Apparently a cheese starter culture is a good thing to make before you try to make a cheese.
Cheese makers utilize various acidifying bacteria to turn the lactose (a sugar) into lactic acid. The one I'll be using was bought from a market stall called "The smelly cheese shop" in the Adelaide central markets, and probably contains Lactococcus and perhaps a little of some kind of yeast. Sadly there are no details as to whats in it or what I should do with it.
After reading a bit I think I have some kind of a plan. [was written at 2pm]
After procrastinating a bit I think I have a different plan. [was written at 3pm]
OK I don't have a plan.
But what I now have in place of a plan is a guarantee of outcome. I am now certain that this will either work, or not.
Here's where my cheesy revolution is at so far.
I took two litres of pasteurized but not homogenized milk. And I left it in the bottle. Its already pretty sterile in there so I figured I'd leave it alone.
I sat it in the bottle in a saucepan filled with 50°C water until it to was at 50°C. I figured it was at 50°C when the saucepan stayed at a constant temp. I adjusted the temperature of the entire piece of kit, by just adding small amounts of boiling water to the saucepan whenever it needed it. It took about 15 mins. I'm sure the temperature of the milk will be something other than 50°C, but if this works, at least it should be reproducible. I stirred the saucepan water using the bottle, and from time to time I removed a bit of water with a mug whenever there wasn't enough room to add the small amounts of boiling water.
Once the bottle of milk was at 50°C, I added a couple of grams of my store bought starter culture. I'm hoping this stuff reproduces up to some maxim population based on the amount of lactose available. If it does then it shouldn't really matter how much, or how little, I put in. Or not. Really I have no idea, but strive constantly to reassure myself.
I placed it in a foam box to keep it at a steady temperature. To help it maintain 50°C, I also put 6 litres of hot tap water in with it.
I'll leave it in there until later tonight, then add some rennet to make it set.
Tomorrow I'll have to figure out a way to cut the curd and press it. I'll try to work out a way to do it in the bottle as much as I can so I can keep it as sterile as I can for as long as I can.
Tomorrow I'll either have the beginnings of cheese in a bottle, some yogurt, or perhaps a new milk based life-form.