Regarding your yogurt - if you do not use a guaranteed live culture yogurt as your starter it will not 'culture' for you.
For other official cheeses you need their proper culture and/or rennet, and/or sea water. Even Feta cheese is made with rennet. So no you didn't make true mozzarella, or true feta cheeses. However, many similar tasting cheeses can be made by using simpler processes - including clabbering (allowing it to sit in a warm place until the whey separates out) - and/or fermenting it in one fashion or another - this is what I'd say you did with your yogurt-flop. It was inoculated in some way and fermented into some interesting ferments - delicious I wish I was at your house!
Enjoy your ferments!
As long as your source for raw milk is clean and mostly grass/hay fed I wouldn't worry about bad bacteria over producing and causing you problems. The issues come in when the cows are raised the modern way, fed plenty of grain, kept in close confinement and other such practices which promote dangerous bacteria to live and grow inside the cow, even in it's meat.
Others will disagree with me, but I believe 'modern practices' in animal care and raising are the reasons why our foods today are not as safe and clean as in days gone by.
I never heat my milk, even when making cheese. We consume, raw, organic, pasture fed milk for it's probiotics - which heating would kill. Good gut flora is our goal.
So consider your source for raw milk and proceed accordingly Blessings....
Get your cultures here http://www.culturesforhealth.com/vegetable-rennet.html
Your correct about 110 F is not to high of temp, I believe the recipe called for 130 F for yogurt. I now make Kefir yogurt, which doesn't require heating the milk at all.
When making cheeses, I heat the milk to just barely warm, add the culture, rennet, or even buttermilk, and then place in a barely warm oven over night. Works great....
You can use buttermilk or yogart to inoculate raw milk to make low temperature cheeses, like mazzarella, colby etc.. Special cultures are only needed to make high temp cheese like swiss etc.
Use of rennet makes the result more reliable, and the curd firmer and faster.
Many buttermilk and yogarts will not serve as starter cultures.....I dont know what is done by the processors to kill them, probably pasturizing after the culturing.
Yes, that is just what they do.
You can also find live cheeses, not heated after the culture was added, usually in the specialty cheese section - grate these up and add to your heated milk + rennet to make a light-heat version with flavor
take my milk warn from the teat, put it in a sterilized jar with a Tbls. of starter and place it on top of the refrigerator. In 8 hours it is yogart(more time in cold wx and less in hot). I prefer buttermilk which I make the same way but with some cultured buttermilk as starter. Many buttermilk and yogarts will not serve as starter cultures.....
I make yogurt from raw cow's milk in a similar fashion. I never heat it up. Warm from the cow is best but I've use cold as well. It just takes longer. I use a small local commercially prepared yogurt that uses a Bulgarian culture. I sell most of what I make, but make several jars of it for myself and then use that as the starter.
I am operating with the belief that none of my milk products are going to kill me or make me terrbly ill. Smell is sure subjective. I have to think cheese to smell stuff properly, cuz, sure, by my old standards these things have gone sour and are "ruined". But no, they have turned into something like cheese. I put the sour cream/feta (clabber) cheese one on pizza and it was delicious. The mozzarella-like one has been good on salads. So cool! This could so easily blossom into all out cheese making.
I work on a raw milk dairy and have made some accidental as well as purposeful projects. I also used to brew beer. I use the same guiding principle as you that most things that don't smell or taste awful won't kill me or make me terribly ill. And it is subjective. I also find that if I make it I probably push the sourness factor specifically with beer. I have over heated my yogurt, which I make in an oven with the pilot light on and made some cheese type thing somewhere between cottage cheese and feta. I am now fermenting some over cooked yogurt in a jar in the pantry just to see. This is how most fermented foods were discovered to begin with. Someone left something somewhere and ate it anyway.
The main advantage to buying cultures, rennet, and starters is consistency. The finished product is more predictable and controlled. Depending on where you live if there is a homebrew and winemaking store they sometimes carry cheese supplies as well. Of course there are many resources online.
In my experience, I have read all kinds of advice and talked to people about methods and then just experimented once I learned the process.
Since then I have been making yogurt using a yogurt culture. One time I was out of culture and used some store bought yogurt for the starter. It was a plain yogurt from Oikos.
I have almost exclusively used store bought yogurt and not cultures (and then my own yogurt made from the initial yogurt). I've had good luck with Fage (a Greek kind) and a local Austin brand that uses Bulgarian culture.
The Austin one even has instructions on how to use it. I've only had one batch that didn't make properly using the Austin stuff. My temp was high on those batches as well, my other post goes into that more.
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