starter


In the world of cheese, a starter, also known as a bacterial culture or starter culture typically consists of enzymes or other microorganisms, bacterial or mold spores, lactic acid (sometimes from the previous day's milk or whey) and natural elements. Two types of cultures are used: thermophilic cultures work best at temperatures over 100°F and mesophilic cultures function at temperatures between 70° and 100°F. Starters work by converting the milk's lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid. This is done to balance the milk's acidity (pH level) so the casein (milk protein) will more readily coagulate into a curd when rennet is added. The type of starter contributes to a cheese's flavor, texture and other characteristics, depending on the style of cheese. For instance, Penicillium roqueforti in a roquefort starter produces this cheese's distinctive blue veins; Propionibacter shermanii is added to the starter for emmental to create its characteristic eyes; and Penicillium candidum or Penicillium camemberti in the starter of brie and camembert is what makes such cheeses ripen from the outside in, rather than vice versa. See also yeast starter

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Gentlemen, Start Your Ovens...

Find 1000s of Food Network's best recipes from top chefs, shows and experts. And watch videos demonstrating recipe prep and cooking techniques.

Wine to Get the Party Started

Having a party next week and don't know which wine to buy? Or how much? Follow these wine tips to make your party tops.

The Best Start to Your Day

Trying to find healthy and delicious recipes? Food Network makes that easy with their collection of low fat, low calorie and low carb recipes.

How to Get Started on an Exercise Routine

Want to start exercising but are not sure how to get it going? These six steps will set you off in the right direction.

Start a New Tradition: How to Host an Amazing Friendsgiving

The only thing better than Thanksgiving dinner is two Thanksgiving dinners. Here's how to double your fun – and give thanks for great friends – with a Friendsgiving dinner this year.