Sometimes one has to look no further than the past to discover useful techniques or ingredients used in cheese making. One of these long lost ingredients might be our old friend calcium chloride. Why? Calcium chloride has been around and used in the past many years ago to firm up the cottage cheese curd piece (or any other cheese curd piece for that matter). Calcium chloride supplies extra calcium to the skim milk (for cottage cheese) or milk source (for other cheeses) to provide extra calcium for bridging between casein micelles and to strengthen bridging within the casein micelle itself during coagulation and also in the subsequent cooking steps. This enhances curd integrity and curd identity in cottage cheese by holding the curd piece together more strongly during the delicate first part of the cooking process when the curd piece is in its most fragile stage. This usually will give better curd yield because less fines are generated and therefore less fines will be lost when the hot whey is removed during the draining and rinsing steps.
The other nice attribute of adding calcium chloride is that it can reduce your final cookout temperature significantly because starting with a firmer curd piece to begin with and right after cut, means a firmer curd piece all the way to the end cookout temperature. Firmer to start with means you don’t have to cook it out so high in order to firm up the curd piece. Calcium chloride can also provide for what we call a “meatier chew” to the curd piece itself. Out in the field (in the dairy plants) I feel calcium chloride has been forgotten about. You hear dairies say that they only use it in large curd cheese, or they only use it in the summer months, but my experience is that most dairies hardly use it at all! I think it is time to bring this key ingredient back, especially when using a blended DVI cottage cheese culture such as our MCT line of cottage cheese cultures. I think you’ll be glad you did! If you need help using or re-introducing calcium chloride into your cottage cheese making operation, give us a call. We would be glad to help as part of our value added service to our customers when buying from DuPont.