The coming of April and the cool weather (for us Aussies at least) means it's time for me to get back into serious cheesemaking. So yesterday I got 6 litres of goat milk and started a cheddar off.
It all went pretty well and smoothly right until that dreaded time when I tried to get the curds to knit.
I thought I had this issue knocked on the head last year, I really did! The secret (as Jeff and others helpfully informed me on this site) to getting cheddar curds to knit well is to ensure a high ambient temp.
So I kept the oven on until it was time for me to press the curds, then opened the oven door and put the cheese in the cheese press there and screwed it down.
A few minutes later, I come back.... the f*^&(^*(&(ing cheese fell to pieces in my hands!
So, not sure what's going on here. Could it be the milk I used? (I've never used it for cheddar before).
Possible infection? (I did smell something that might have been 'bready' coming from the curds early on - an indication of possible yeast infection). I suspect this wouldn't be enough on its own.
Possibly mishandling during the cheddaring stage?.... Maybe. When I broke the cheddared curds up and chucked them back in the pot to age for half an hour more, I found they expressed a bit of pale white liquid (the recipe said not to squeeze them). And my stirring of the curds perhaps wasn't as regular as it should have been (which may have caused some matting). Or simply the weight of the curds on one another could have caused matting as well.
Kind of, maybe, possibly, could have. Basically I have no idea what went wrong but I have a few possibilities to work on.
(It's knitted now, overnight, though looking more than a little misshapen...!)
Rant over. This is only the first cheese of the season folks, hope the next one goes better!