Hello Everyone. This is my first post and would like to introduce myself before calling upon minds wiser than my own for information. Especially those like Linuxboy, Sailor Con Queso, etc whose names came up time and again during my initial research to acquaint myself with the basics of cheese making, and whom are the sole reason I decided to join. Anyway. I am on a quest to make a from scratch mozzarella cheese viable in a wood-fired pizza concept; in an attempt to elevate my product above my competitors. I have scraped and saved for a long time to get 1 chance to make something of myself & intend to make the most of this opportunity. I can think of no better way to elevate my product than from scratch, house-made mozzarella.
That being said, my initial attempts have followed this process(Problem......):
- Store bought whole milk(1 gal Publix brand) which is standarized to 3.25%fat & I believe 3%protein & warmed in a water bath to 90F over about 40min period. I know they're processing factory is relatively close to me and I hope even though it's commerically pasteurized/homogenized that it hasn't been held in cold storage for too long comprimising the proteins, etc.
- I have used the direct acidification method via citric acid like a true noob. 1.5tsps per 1 gal. Though thanks to Sailor I am going to use his mother culture process to increase efficiency as well as the benefits of using real bacteria to acidify my cheese milk.
- At about 85F I add 1/4tsp mild lipase diluted and "set" for 20 minutes before being stirred in briskly to milk.
- At 90F I add 1/8tsp(11drops) double strength vegetable rennet & stirred for 30 seconds.
- I have gotten OK curd formation everytime. After about 40 minutes it forms a clean break when I insert my finger and lift which leads me to believe the milk was sufficient enough to make cheese with? I cut the curds in about 1/4" cubes and allowed the curds to heal for about 15 minutes. Then I begin to very gently stir the curds once every 2 minutes or so as I slowly heat the healed curds to 105F over a 40 minute time period.
- I pull them together and pour away the whey and begin to cheddar the curds. They do form a tight, slightly bouncy homogenous mass. When I said cheddaring. I did not cook keep them at 105F while matting the curds. I just let them drain at room temp and rotated accordingly. But I was very consistent with my temps throughout the process other than this slip up. My Ph was at 5.5 as far as I could tell from my Ph test strips. Too low for proper stretching/melting. I let it sit covered at room temp over night and it still read 5.4-5.5. Why did it bottom out?
- I gave it the spin test anyway and it had basically no stretching characteristics. I tried to knead it, but it would just break and break. I have no idea if the citric acid is attracting excessive calcium affecting stretch? Or if the milk was not good enough? Or if my C/F ratio is not right for pasta filata applications. I am overwhelmed at this point with so much newly learned information.
(My attempt at solution) - In further research into this lead me to the C/F ratios for mozzarella which should be at least 1:1ratio if not 1.5:1 or higher. Knowing that my store bought milk is 3.25% fat and 3.25% protein(8g fat per serving as well as 8g of protein per serving) I read quite a lot about standardization of milk via Ultra-filtered milk liquids/powders, other WPC's, non-fat powerdered milk, etc in order to raise the protein to fat ratio. I used the same method as above except this time I diluted 1/3 cup NF milk powder into enough UF filtered milk to equal a 1.25 cups total for the mixture. I added this to the milk prior to acidification. After I added the citric acid I noticed a lot of floating solids on top of the milk. I don't think this was standard curdling. It seemed to be the powdered milk mixture. Did I not properly hydrate the powdered milk? Or did the acid have an effect? Was it the fact I mixed NF powder into whole milk FairLife Ultra filtered milk and the fat in that had adverse effects? I don't know........but just like before the Ph bottomed out at around 5.5ish.
When I attempted to give it a spin test after 18 hours room temp ripening. It seemed to have small spots throughout it that were very stretchy, but as a whole when heated to 135F internally it took 5 minutes of kneading a lose, grainy curd into something that actually stretched!!!!It actually had a smooth glossy surface! It actually resembled mozzarella for once. My excitement was quickly stifled during the oven test when it failed to produce the same stretchiness it had when forming balls. It also had very bad melting as well. Browning was a little excessive probably due to the extra lactose added with the extra milk powder mixture. I expected that much though. I have no idea what went wrong? Was I still short on my C/F ratio's? I don't know why small spots in curd were extremely stretchy but the majority was not?
Which leads me here to ask people wiser than myself for any possible advice they could give me to help me achieve a top quality mozzarella cheese. I intend to use a thermo culture MC maybe t52 or T60 series as well as LH100 finish off that pesky lactose. But I still need to get my C/F ratio up to at least 1.5:1 for better stretching/melting. Is my mind in the right place in my thinking to add NF powerdered milk/Ultra filtered milk to increase the protein while keeping the fat the same? Should I add more fat too via cream or is 3.25% enough to get the 15% minimum fat needed to legally call it mozzarella? I can't even begin to calculate Fat/solids ratios. I worry too much ultra-pasteurized products(cream,UFmilk) will affect curd formation though. I also worry I will never be able to achieve top quality mozzarella when I'm adding these powdered products instead of having access to high quality raw milk sources like cheese manufacturers do. This is not an option for me. However I have made this same recipe with 100% grass fed jersey cow raw milk and it was absolutely amazing in every aspect. No problems with stretching/melting, flavor and texture was amazing. This just confuses me further. I am at the point where I don't know if this is even realistic to make my own cheese that is reliable and consistent enough to use for commercial purposes everyday. I'm sorry for making this sooo long but I know how much you guys appreciate detail and need it to give the right advice. I hope I have not over-stepped my welcome. Thank you so much for reading this and replying. Have a great day