Adding herbs etc

  • This topic has 3 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 1 year ago by L. Elliot.
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  • #2040 Reply
    Liv
    Participant

    Hi there

    As a beginner cheesemaker, one issue I find confusing is what other ingredients such as herbs and spices you can safely add to cheese, or to oil that cheese is marinated in. For instance I know in general we are told that garlic in oil is a potential botulism risk. But you see things like feta in oil with fresh garlic in the shops all the time. So how can you add garlic in a safe way?
    As far as I’m aware, adding anything dried to oil is fine, but what about fresh ingredients such as fresh herbs, lemon slices, chillies etc.
    Also, is it safe to add fresh ingredients directly to the cheese or should they be dried. If it is safe, how does it affect the shelf life of the cheese?

    Any information would be much appreciated.

    #3740 Reply
    Punkin
    Participant

    Liv. I am no expert here but I am very careful of what I add to cheese. The fact that cheese can last virtually forever and most other foods rot or spoil is some indication of just what can be added. I microwave even dryed herbs for ten or twenty seconds to sterilize them. I only use pickled hot peppers or dryed pepper flakes. I don’t believe fresh anything and aged cheese make a good combination. Fresh cheese is a different story and herbs and fresh ingredients are used. I used to even microwave horseradish before I added it but found it made the flavor bland so I began using high quality horseradish straight from the jar but still try to consume in a month or so. The environment inside cheese is acidic, salty, and void of much water. All three help make for less bad bacteria growth but still one needs to err on the side of caution.

    #8242 Reply
    harmo
    Participant

    Hi Liv,

    6 years on, I’d like to add my two (hopefully helpful) cents after the fact.

    I agree with Punkin, all additives must be sterilized before being added to cheese. As Punkin said, fresh herbs can be added to fresh cheeses if you expect to eat it all very quickly, and refrigerate it properly in the meantime. Aged cheeses are a different story.

    Sanitizing needs to be done in ways that considers the ingredient. Fresh leaves are problematic as they will often wilt and lose flavour. However, dried herb leaves boiled in a little bit of water won’t have this problem. Add the cooled flavoured water you sanitized the leaves in to the milk prior to the rennet, and add the sanitized leaves to the curds as they’re being put in the moulds. You’ll probably find that this should work, and impart flavour effectively. This is also how some cheese makers incorporate peppercorns into Pepato.

    That said, and extending it a bit, adding garlic does not necessarily mean fresh garlic.
    For example, you could extensively caramelize garlic/onion by pan frying it in a little oil. This should sanitize the ingredient, while actually enhancing the flavour. I’ve put caramelized garlic into a Gouda styled cheese as I’m moulding the curds, aged it for 6-10 months in a vacuum sealed bag, and it goes amazingly well on any sort of pasta, salad, hamburger, or even on bread/crackers. The sweet caramelized garlic is nothing like the pungent fresh stuff, but offsets the bite of heavily aged cheeses.

    You can always add grated (finished) cheese to fresh garlic if you want that particular combination. The risk is greatly reduced and the flavours of both ingredients are there.

    I hope this helps!
    Harmo.

    #8271 Reply
    L. Elliot
    Guest

    I’ve been wondering about the same thing. Thank you for your input on this Harmo and Punkin.

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