FAQs

Choose a category to find answers to many of the questions asked by our customers. If you don't see your question, please contact us and we will be happy to help you!

General Questions

Shipping Questions

Product Usage Guidelines

Troubleshooting


General Questions

I'm new to cheese-making/yogurt-making. What do I need to get started?

There is a short and a long answer to this question. In short: the right bacteria and good quality milk. Cheesemaking is both subjective as art and objective as a science. If you are interested in learning everything you need to know, we highly recommend the books “The Cheesemaker’s Manual” by Margaret Morris, or “Mastering Basic Cheesemaking” or "Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking," both by Gianaclis Caldwell. You can find these and other books for sale in the Books section of our website, or you may be able to find one at your local library. In addition, please visit our Resources page, which has links to lots of valuable information and recipes. You may also find what you are looking for in our other FAQ sections. And, as always, if you need more information or have problems just give us a call!

Your website says you are temporarily out of stock of something that I need -- how long before I can get it?

We work hard to gauge our inventory so that this doesn’t happen, but periodically events beyond our control will affect our stock levels. It could be just a day or two, or it may be weeks before we can get something in. If you need a specific date, please feel free to call us and we will make our best estimate on that particular product. In addition, there may be an acceptable substitute for the product you are trying to order – if so, we will let you know.

Do you have sales?

All the time! We offer some kind of discount or sale every month. To get the discount codes, click on our “Sale” page, find us on Facebook, or sign up for our e-newsletter.

Do you offer volume discounts?

Yes we do! We encourage you to take advantage of our volume discount program. If your total purchase (pre-tax and before shipping and handling cost) is more than $300, a 5% discount will be applied to your purchase. Volume discounts available to our customers are:

Orders greater than $300 = 5% off

Orders greater than $750 = 10% off

Orders greater than $1500 = 15% off

Orders greater than $2000 = 20% off

Do you have a minimum order?

No.

Can I order a gift certificate for someone?

Yes, you can! Call us and we’ll set it up for you.

What in the world is a DCU?

This is a somewhat confusing concept to grasp.

A DCU is a proprietary measurement which is neither a weight nor a volume. Instead, it is a measure of the bacterial activity contained within the entire packet, since creameries and commercial cheesemakers use these packets in their entirety. A 25-DCU packet of a given lot today could weigh, for example, 6 grams, but tomorrow's lot with the same DCU value could weigh 5.5 grams. The entire packet as a whole will have a consistent total amount of activity. Home and hobby cheesemakers usually only need a very small portion of the packet and must slightly over-inoculate anyway; therefore, this DCU measurement and its subtle variability between lots does not really apply to home cheesemakers. This slight shift will not affect a home cheesemaker's batch. Since we do not break down most of our commercial-sized packets for home use (this saves everyone a lot of money), DCUs can be confusing to the home user. In addition, it is difficult to say exactly how far a given packet will go, since different types of cheeses and different batch sizes have different inoculation rates.

So, how can you figure out how many batches of cheese you'll get from a given packet size? It really depends on the culture, but in general the home user can usually expect to get at least (20) 2-gallon batches out of a 50-DCU packet (again, there is still the variable of which kind of cheese you are making. We offer this as a general approximation for many cheese types and a common batch size).

Can you tell me more about your kosher certification and products?

Please visit our Kosher FAQ page to learn more about our kosher products.


Shipping Questions

When will my order be shipped?

We ship as soon as possible, but in the warmer months we ship only on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to avoid having your highly perishable product sit over the weekend while in transit. If you place an online order on a Monday or Tuesday, your order will ship the next day. Orders placed before 1pm CST on Wednesday will be shipped Wednesday. In warmer months, orders placed Wednesday after 1pm through Sunday will be shipped the following Monday or Tuesday. In cooler months, we may ship on Thursday and Friday, which we assess on a case-by-case basis. Please watch your email for a shipping notification to know when your order is on the way. If you have special circumstances or require expedited shipment, please call or email us.

It's been a long time and my order hasn't arrived. What should I do?

Call or email us! There may have been a delay in your shipment, either here or in transit, and we can find out what’s going on for you. Please note that we make every effort to contact you immediately if there is a problem. Please be sure your shipping and contact information is accurate.

I live 1000 or more miles from your location in Madison, Wisconsin. Why won't you ship my perishable product via UPS Ground or FedEx Ground service in the summer?

Most of the perishable products we sell are sensitive to high temperatures, though they will travel well in ambient temperatures (60-90 degrees F) for about two to three days – four days is pushing it, depending on the product and if it’s very hot outside. If you live in one of the following states, it will generally take three to four days to reach you via ground service: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, ID, MA, ME, MT, NM, NV, OR, RI, TX, UT, VT, WA, WY.

Why don't you ship my order with ice packs?

Ice packs melt quickly, are expensive and add a lot of weight to your package, thus making shipping & handling more expensive. After 20 years of shipping cultures, rennet and lipase all over the country, we have learned that it’s generally more cost-efficient for our customers to have their items in transit for less time than it is to use ice packs. That said, if you would like an ice pack, just let us know!

Do you ship internationally?

We do not ship outside of the United States at this time.


Product Usage Guidelines

How do I store these products?

Cultures, molds, aromas and lipase powders will keep best in your freezer. Unopened, cultures will retain activity for up to two years. Once you open them, however, be sure to close them up well and also place the packet inside a sealable plastic bag or small mason jar to try to keep moisture away from the culture. Things that can affect your culture once you’ve opened them include moisture, temperature and bad bacteria that you may have inadvertently introduced. Rennet should be kept in your refrigerator – do NOT freeze rennet. Cheese color, calcium chloride, citric acid and salt do not require refrigeration and should be stored in a cool dry place.

How much yogurt or cheese culture do I add to my milk?

This will vary depending on the type of cheese that you are making, but general guidelines can be found at the bottom of each product page under the "Additional Information" tab. We also encourage you to use our Resources link, which will lead you to a variety of recipes, tips and additional information about yogurt/cheese-making. And as always, don’t hesitate to call or email us!

If I used to use single-strength veal rennet and now I use the Supreme Double Strength vegetable rennet, does that mean I need to use half as much (or vice-versa)?

Generally, yes. This is a good place to start. Some adjustment may need to be made based on the milk and other conditions.

My liquid rennet/coagulant has been in the fridge for a year or more. Can I still use it?

Probably not. Coagulant doesn’t “go bad” so much as it loses its ability to coagulate milk after about 9-12 months (check the Best Use By Date on label). You can still try it, but you will need to use more and be willing to possibly sacrifice your batch. It it’s much past the Best Use By Date on the label, you will want to get some fresh coagulant. You may want to test your coagulant/rennet strength before using older product -- check out our coagulant test here.


Troubleshooting

My yogurt is runny -- what is going on?

Possibilities:

  1. Have you made homemade yogurt before? Homemade yogurt usually has a thinner consistency than the yogurt sold in stores because it contains none of the stabilizers or thickeners that are often added to the store-bought variety
  2. You may want to try a different yogurt culture – ABY2C is our yogurt culture that generally produces the thickest-bodied yogurt.
  3. Did you heat your milk to 180°F and hold it there for 30 minutes before cooling the milk to 108-115°F and then stirring in your culture? Heating the milk to 180° for 30 minutes affects the proteins in milk in such a way (known as denaturing) that it results in a thicker product.
  4. Did you add enough culture? In a related matter, did you shake up your culture before pouring out what you needed to get a good mixture of the different bacteria strains?
  5. Did you incubate your yogurt long enough, and at the correct temperature? Make sure your thermometer is calibrated correctly and that you are following the temperature guidelines for yogurt-making. Note that if you are using raw (unpasteurized) and/or goat or sheep milk, you will need to add 2-4 hours to the recommended incubation time for your culture.
  6. Tried all the above and still not getting a thick enough product? Some people like to add powdered milk or unflavored gelatin to make a thicker yogurt. Add 1/3 cup powdered milk for every quart of milk before heating the milk. Otherwise, you may want to try straining your yogurt with a draining bag or cheesecloth for a few hours after the incubation period (drain in refrigerator).

I'm trying to make cheese and it's not forming a curd.

Possibilities:

  1. Check that your milk is at the recommended temperature for the kind of cheese you are making and be sure your thermometer is calibrated correctly.
  2. Using the same amount of rennet for different milk types can affect your coagulation; for example, between 1% fat and full fat, or between cow, goat, and sheep's milk, or even between different cow or goat species there can be differences that require subtle changes in the amount of rennet used.
  3. Low casein (protein) content of the milk will cause problems in coagulation. Use different milk or add skim milk powder before adding rennet.
  4. Old milk – if you are using non-pasteurized milk, bacteria can increase during the time between milking and cheese making, which will impact your milk’s ability to curd.
  5. Severity of heat treatment during pasteurization will have an impact -- Ultra Pasteurized milk is difficult to coagulate, and Ultra-High Pasteurized milk may not coagulate at all. Use milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized.
  6. Starter culture inhibition due to mastitic and late-lactation milk, higher free fatty acid levels, antibiotic residues.
  7. Low calcium level in milk -- calcium levels reduce at end of lactation season. More common in pasteurized milk, the common solution is to add diluted Calcium Chloride.
  8. When you diluted the calcium chloride and/or coagulant, did you use chlorine-free water? Most city tap water contains chlorine and this can cause problems with coagulation. Use distilled water if you suspect your tap water has chlorine in it.

I'm getting some coagulation, but not enough.

Possibilities:

  1. Don't over-agitate (stir for more than a minute or so) rennet in milk for longer than recommended time, as it breaks up curds as they start to form.
  2. Incorrect amount of rennet -- rennet amounts, either liquid, paste, powder or tablet, should be measured very accurately: Too little rennet can result in a) slow, mostly acid coagulation rather than rennet coagulation, b) very soft curd that will shatter when cut, and c) poor flavor development during aging. Too much rennet can result in a) unusually rapid coagulation and too-firm rubbery curd that when cut will tear, b) a curd that will retain too much whey, and c) develop a bitter taste during agingPoor/improper dilution of rennet -- using chlorinated water (most city tap water) for dilution before adding to milk will inhibit curd formation. Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent and rapidly destroys the rennet enzymes. We recommend using cool, non-chlorinated bottled or distilled water to pre-dilute rennet. Also, waiting too long between pre-diluting rennet in cool non-chlorinated water and adding it to milk will affect coagulation, as rennet enzymes become unstable when diluted and lose strength. Add your diluted rennet to the milk immediately after dilution. If using dry-powdered or tablet rennet, be sure that the dry rennet is fully dissolved in cool, non-chlorinated water before adding it to the milk. Check the pH of your dilution water if you are having coagulation problems -- low alkalinity (above neutral 7.0 pH) will result in inactivity of the rennet. Causes of low alkaline water are a) naturally alkaline water, b) pre-dilution container having traces of detergent or sanitizer, c) pre-diluting container was used for diluting colorants such as annatto, which can inactivate rennet.
  3. Coagulant/rennet strength is degraded due to improper storage or excessive age. Keep your liquid coagulant refrigerated and discard after 9-12 months from purchase.