How to Make Salt Brine for Cheese


Cheese making is an art form that dates back thousands of years, combining tradition, skill and science in the pursuit of culinary perfection. One essential technique in this process is the use of salt brine. This seemingly simple solution plays a crucial role in flavoring, preserving, and texturing cheese. But how exactly is it made, and what’s the secret to getting it just right?

Join us as we delve into the world of cheesemaking, exploring the ins and outs of creating the perfect salt brine for cheese. Whether you’re a seasoned cheesemaker or a beginner looking to try your hand at this ancient craft, our guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to master the art of brining cheese.

You’ll learn about the different types of brine, how to mix them correctly, and why they are so important in the cheesemaking process. So put on your apron, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get started on our brining journey!

Cool your cheese down before brining; a warm cheese will absorb more salt hence making it saltier than expected.

Also read: 9 Simple Steps of Home Cheesemaking (TECHNIQUES)

The 3 Different Types of Brine Solution

Making salt brine for cheese is a relatively simple process. Here’s a general guideline based on my web search:

  1. Light Brine Solution: This is usually required for fresh cheeses such as feta. To make 2 cups of a 12% brine solution, dilute 60 g (2 oz) of non-ionized salt in 2 cups of water.
  2. Saturated Brine Solution: Add non-ionised salt to 2 litres (approx 2 quarts) of water until no more salt can dissolve. Once all of the salt dissolves, you have a saturated brine solution ready to use for your cheese.
  3. 18% Brine Solution: This type of solution might be used for cheeses like Mozzarella. The exact measurements can vary, so it would be best to refer to specific recipes or cheese making guides.

The main reason that cheese makers salt brine their cheese is to slow down or completely stop the bacteria process of converting lactose to lactic acid. In any case, brining helps to develop the rind and overall flavor of your cheese.

Remember that most cheese recipes require salt to be added, rubbed, or soaked in at some stage in the cheese-making process. Salt is an important part of cheese making.

Please note that the information above is intended as a guide and the exact method and measurements may vary depending on the specific type of cheese and the recipe used.

How much salt do you put in brine for cheese?

Brine TypeAmount of SaltAmount of Water
Light Brine (10% salinity)13 ounces (approx 368.5 grams)1 gallon (approx 3.8 liters)
18% Brine Solution180 grams820 mL
Saturated Brine (26%+ salinity)Until no more can dissolve (approx 2.25 lbs or 1 kg for 1 gallon of water)2 liters or until no more salt can dissolve
General Brine Recipe35 ounces (approx 1 kilogram)1 gallon (approx 3.8 liters)
Please note that these are general guidelines and the exact measurements may vary depending on the specific type of cheese and the recipe used.

How to Use and Store Brine

How to Use Cheese Brine:

  1. Once the brine is prepared, cool it to approximately the same temperature as the cheese.
  2. Place the cheese in the brine. The duration will depend on the type of cheese and its size. Typically, you’ll want to brine for about 6 hours per pound of cheese.
  3. Ensure the cheese is fully submerged. You can do this by placing a weight on top of the cheese or flipping the cheese periodically.
  4. After brining, remove the cheese from the brine. Pat it dry before allowing it to air dry and develop a rind.

How to Store Cheese Brine:

  1. If you plan to reuse your brine, strain it through a cheesecloth to remove any curds or whey that may have separated from the cheese during the brining process.
  2. Store the strained brine in a clean, sealable container. Glass or food-grade plastic containers work well.
  3. Keep the brine in the refrigerator. It can be reused for several months as long as it’s kept clean and cold.
  4. Before reusing the brine, boil it for 5 minutes to kill off any unwanted bacteria, and then let it cool before using.

If your brine starts to look cloudy, or develops an off-smell, it’s time to dispose of it and make a new batch.

Why do you soak cheese in brine?

Soaking cheese in brine serves several important purposes in the cheesemaking process:

  1. Flavor: The salt in the brine enhances the flavor of the cheese. It also helps to create a more complex taste profile by slowing down or stopping the bacteria’s process of converting lactose to lactic acid, which can influence the cheese’s final flavor.
  2. Texture: The brine helps to firm up the cheese and gives it a more desirable texture. It does this by drawing out moisture from the cheese, causing it to harden.
  3. Preservation: Brining helps to preserve the cheese by creating an environment that is inhospitable to harmful bacteria. The high salt content of the brine dehydrates and kills most bacteria, helping to extend the shelf life of the cheese.
  4. Rind Formation: The brine helps to form a rind on the surface of the cheese. This rind acts as a natural barrier against contaminants and also contributes to the flavor and texture of the cheese.
  5. Control of Bacterial Growth: The salt in the brine helps to control the growth of bacteria in the cheese, which is crucial for its safe consumption.

How does salt preserve cheese?

Salt plays a crucial role in preserving cheese and has been used for this purpose for thousands of years. Here’s how it works:

  1. Dehydration: Salt draws out moisture from the cheese through osmosis, which creates an environment less hospitable to bacteria and molds that could spoil the cheese. This dehydration process helps to harden the cheese and extend its shelf life.
  2. Inhibiting Bacterial Growth: The high salt concentration in cheese makes it difficult for harmful bacteria to survive and multiply. While some bacteria are needed for the cheese to mature and develop flavor, too much bacterial activity can lead to spoilage. Salt slows down this bacterial activity, helping to control the maturation process and prevent the cheese from spoiling prematurely.
  3. Flavor and Texture: Besides preservation, salt also contributes to the flavor and texture of the cheese. It enhances the cheese’s taste and helps in the formation of a rind, which serves as a natural barrier against contamination.
  4. Preventing Pathogens: Some research suggests that salt may help prevent the growth of certain pathogens like Listeria and Salmonella in cheese.

How long can you keep cheese in brine?

The duration for which you can keep cheese in brine varies depending on the type of cheese and storage conditions. For instance, feta cheese stored in brine can last for about 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator once opened.

Some cheese makers store cheese in a salt brine for months, especially for short-aged cheese. It’s common in some cheesemaking operations to recycle the brine indefinitely.

However, it’s important to note that the brine should be kept at a temperature below 60°F (15.6°C) to prevent unwanted bacterial growth. If you notice any changes in color, smell, or texture, it’s best to discard the cheese as these could be signs of spoilage.

Remember to always store your brine-soaked cheese in the refrigerator, and ensure that the cheese is fully submerged in the brine for the best preservation.

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