Making Friends With Those Little Enzymes
"The biology of cheese accurately reflects the biology of nature. Its reactions for the most part, except on cheese surfaces, occur in a confined almost airless environment in which millions of microbes struggle toward some progressive goal, usually that of keeping alive." (Cheese and Fermented Milk Foods, Kosikowski, Volume I, p. 417)
What do you mean?
If that's the way you make your cheese, congratulations and you can stop reading now! You are treating your lipase friends with the respect they deserve and they will serve you well.
Now, picture this- You go to the store and buy pasteurized milk because in the area where you live, you can't buy raw milk. You patiently and carefully do everything you can to make your cheese properly. You put it in the aging "cave" you have made and wait for many months. You try your cheese, and it's good, but not like the cheese you love so much. Where is the flavor?
Well, to be blunt, your little lipase friends were killed when your milk was pasteurized. Simple as that.
So, you ask- if pasteurization kills the lipase enzymes, how come my milk goes rancid after I leave it in the refrigerator and go away for a month?
Well, this is because bacteria also create their own lipase. There are some bacteria that thrive in refrigerator temperatures. They are called psychrotrophic bacteria. This bacteria secretes a lipase that can penetrate and break up even an undamaged fat globule. This again increases the chance of rancidity in the cheese during aging. (This is the reason we warn you against using milk that has been stored for a long time.)
What is lipase?
Lipase (pronounced lie-paze) is one of at least 60 enzymes living in real milk. (The exact amount of lipase in the milk depends on the breed of animal and their diet.) Each enzyme has it's own specific function. Lipase enzymes attack the fat globules and break them down. This releases free fatty acids. When this happens the way it is supposed to, during the ripening of the cheese, it gradually increases the "picante" flavor of the cheese. It also makes the texture smooth and velvety.
Who knew the dirty little secret behind something called lipase? It's an enzyme from the stomach and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs found in some vitamin supplements. (Planetgreen.com, Mickey Z., July 29, 2009)
In recent years, more and more use is being made of microbial lipases. There is even a Kosher microbial lipase which should be available soon. We'll keep you posted on that.
How do I know when to use it?
These are the main reasons to use it:
1. If you are using pasteurized milk.
2. If you are using cow's milk to make a cheese that is traditionally made with goat's milk (like Feta).
3. If you want any cheese you are making to be more flavorful.
Which one should I use?
As I mentioned, there are many kinds of lipase available. We carry two of the most commonly used:
Italase (Calf) (L3) This is a mild, delicate flavor. You would use it in your Mozzarella, Asiago, Feta, Provolone, Blue and Queso Fresco.
Capilase (Kid) (L1) This is a sharp, more "picante" flavor. You would use it is your Provolone, Romano and Parmesan.
How do I use it?
You will need to determine how much to use, according to your flavor preferences, but we do not recommend using more than 1/4 teaspoon for 2-3 gallons of milk. By the way, please do not think that if you want more flavor, you should add more lipase. It is not the amount of lipase that determines the flavor, but the action of the lipase. So, if you want more flavor than you are getting from the sharpest lipase, age your cheese longer or change other factors such as the type of milk, the type of culture, or the temperature and humidity in your "cave."
If you are making a cheese with rennet that is separate from the starter, you need to add the lipase right before you add the rennet. (This assures that the lipase does not interfere with the starter.)
Always dissolve your lipase in chlorine-free (or distilled) water before adding it to your milk (up to 1/2 cup of water).
How do I store it?
Keep it dry and store it in the freezer. It will be OK for up to a month of shipping time, but then it should be frozen. It will keep for up to 6 months at full potency. Then, it will slowly get weaker.
So . . .
Try it. Maybe you will be amazed at the difference in your cheese. If so (or if not), let us know how it goes at firstname.lastname@example.org.