So I (tried) to make a feta today based on cheesemaking.com's recipe http://www.cheesemaking.com/Feta.html
which has a 4.5 gallon and a 2 gallon recipe (I used the 2 gallon version). I consulted a few other recipes so there are some slight variations that shouldn't affect my problem (unless I'm missing something)
That recipe uses 2-3 basic kit molds for 4.5 gallons. And I found myself using 1 basic kit mold and 1 800g hard cheese mold. Which means I'm getting as much yield from 2 gallons as she gets from 4.5. Which has me very worried about what my feta will come out like (not crumbly at all?), and wondering if I did something wrong and what I can do in the future.
That said, I have poked around on here and found other people with similarly high yields, so it's quite possible I'm just being paranoid. I'd love to have people's opinions though, even if that's the case, since it seems I can't even wait a few days until it's ready to eat.
So, all the gritty details.
I'm using 2 gallons of grocery store milk (but it's specifically a state produced milk, so I think it's pretty good as far as such things go).
Heated my milk up to 93 f (I think. I realized afterwards that my thermometers disagree by about 4 degrees, though they used to agree. I'm not sure which one to believe, I might get a third thermometer and see which one that agrees with. Anyway, if the other thermometer is right, then I only heated it up to 89f)
Added 1/8 tsp mesophilic culture and 1/8 tsp cacl
Wait 60 minutes. During this time the temperature got higher, maybe to 96f (or 92f) because of the aforementioned themometer problem, though I took steps to bring it back down to 93f.
Added 1/8 tsp lipase (which I probably should have added earlier, but it wasn't in that particular recipe anyway) and 1/4 tablet rennet diluted in water.
Let it sit for 40 minutes, got a clean break.
Cut into 1/2 in cubes.
Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Stirred for 20 minutes, keeping it at 93 f. I'm still learning how to stir gently to keep from breaking up the cubes, and I'm experiment with just moving them around enough to get them to jiggle, a suggestion I saw somewhere around here. Which seemed to work quite well, though maybe it meant I wasn't pushing the curds around to expel enough whey?
Let it sit for ten minutes while the curds fell to the bottom of the pot.
Transfered the curds directly into the molds with no cheese cloth.
The cheese is currently draining under its own weight. It has reduced noticeably, so that they are about 2/3rds to 3/4s full after 2 1/2 hours
Places where I differed from the recipe.
1. The temperature, obviously.
2. I'm using the basic mesophilic culture since I don't have any of the alternate mesophilic culture
3. Used lipase
4. The recipe calls for draining the whey down to the level of the curds before moving the curds into the mold. I forgot to do that, so maybe they were wetter at the beginning, but I would think
A few things I've noticed that would probably reduce the yield (if that's a good thing) based on other recipes. Cooking/stirring the curd longer, upwards of 45 minutes. Another recipe suggested increasing temperature and stirring over 30 minutes (side question, does raising the temperature increase the expulsion of the whey from the curd or is that something misremembered/confused)
Anyway, other recipes I've seen for feta more or less agree with cheesemaking.com. I have Tim Smith's book which has the same schedule just at 86 degrees instead of 93. I know that I could get a reduced yield/drier cheese, what has me worried though is that I'm more or less following one particular recipe and getting twice the yield and that has me worried.