I've read almost every post going back months on this forum, but I finally made a batch of curds yesterday from a cheddar recipe (basic recipe from the wiki here). I can't recall reading any dealing with curds intended for eating, not pressing. We can't really get curds here in Arizona so I figured I'd just have to make them myself. It was an experiment to see how my local homogenized/pasteurized store milk would perform (wasn't super accurate on measurements, no ph meter or litmus paper). I really wanted to test my stove/equipment before I spend $10/gal on raw cow or a bit less for raw goat that I can get locally and outfit the kitchen with new toys.
It went great, heated, added 1/8 tsp starter (meso, thecheesemaker.com, 60min), added just shy of 1 tsp CaCl dissolved, then rennet (veal rennet per label, thecheesemaker.com), 15 min floc time, clean break in 45 after that. I cut curd, waited, held at 102 for just over an hour, drained, and salted/stacked at 102 for ~ an hour flipping/rearranging every 10. I only did a light dusting of salt and only for the first 3 flips. It didn't really say how long to do this step for. I could've gone longer, but I was in a hurry to eat some!!
The curds were just a bit too moist to be squeaky but tasted almost like what I remember from the tilamook factory but just a bit more bland and spongy. I added a pinch more salt dusted over the whole batch and put them in plastic containers (thought I'd share with work/family). This morning, they weren't quite as good as last night... and this afternoon they're definitely not as good. They have gotten more moist to the point where some whey has developed in the container, they're sweating just a bit. That said, I have a feeling that if I had a press this would've made a decent cheese- it's decently firm and tasty, just too moist.
Here's where my question comes in- To get them drier on the next batch, should I A ) cheddar them longer, B) raise the water bath temp when cheddaring, C) more salt, or D) All of the above? Or, is it something I haven't thought of yet... could my issue be caused before that point- related to not stirring enough during the cooking of the curds?
Is there a good way to stop the development at the curds stage just to eat a batch (understanding that store milk will not have the same quality curds as raw and that pasteurization is a good idea when eating raw)? I'm driving my wife nuts reading so much about cheesemaking before ever actually making any, but I love the chemistry of it and that's just how I work!! I'm trying not to test too many variables at once, scientific method and all- just looking for an informed opinion since we definitely have some chemists on this forum! I can post pics or specifics on any step if it would help anyone diagnose!