Hello, long time since I posted, but I am back starting to try cheese making again. I don't have thermophilic starter available here in the Philippines, but a friend brought in Rennet and Citric Acid. So we have started making Microwave Mozzarella. The product seems to be a bit variable in terms of amount produced and the cheese's characteristics. We use 4 liters of milk and get 370 to 490 grams (450 grams = 1 pound).
The last batch we made tasted fine, but was not stretchy. It would start to stretch, then break. Not sure why since we used exactly the same amounts and temperatures as previously.
4 liters low temp pasteurized milk (we get it raw and pasteurize ourselves - 1.06 gallons = 4 liters)
Bring to 55F - 75F and add citric acid - 1 1/4 teaspoons
Raise to 90F and add 1/8 teaspoon Liquid Vegetable Rennet
Take off heat and let sit 5 minutes covered
Check for a good break, then slice into 1 inch sections (vertically, not horizontally)
Return to heat, bringing it up to 105F, stirring very gently between the cuts.
Take off heat.
Spoon curds out into colander, the roll it around in the colander to help remove whey
Let sit for a few minutes to drain - normally around 450 grams or 1 pound of mozzarella - sometimes more, sometimes less
We split into 2 batches, microwave for 45 seconds
Remove ... fold and stretch without pressing too much, then drain any whey off
Return to microwave for 30 seconds - stretch and drain - add salt and any spices/herbs if used
Return to microwave for 20 seconds stretch and drain - eat or package for storage
We do a semi-smoked version using liquid smoke by adding 1/8 teaspoon at the same time we add citric acid.
So, what I want to do is improve what our cheese, the vast majority that ends up on a Weber/KettlePizza setup for doing 3 minute wood fired pizza. I don't have cold smoke capabilities, so I use better quality liquid smoke to add some depth of flavor to the mozzarella.
I will start monitoring the pH of the whey when we add citric acid, to see if we are getting the same result each time. I also want to step away from the microwave heating and stretching. I would like to move to either doing it in hot whey solution or salt water solution. And, of course, if we find a reasonably priced, reliable source of thermophilic starter, I will move to the more traditional mozzarella procedures. But for now, it is likely we will have to do the citric acid/rennet approach.
Any suggestions on improving quality and consistency of our yield? Or links to better procedures, given our current limitations?