Author Topic: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?  (Read 848 times)

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« on: December 24, 2013, 10:46:52 PM »
I'm beside myself.  I had made 10-15 cheeses with no problem -- mostly mozzarella, but some cream cheese and fetas.  Even a Wensleydale.  I was about to branch into red-mold cheeses, but this week has stopped everything.

My last 3 attempts at mozzarella have been complete failures.  I had always gotten my milk from Whole Foods; it's local, and more likely to be fresh.  I bought new citric acid, since I was out (but citric acid is citric acid).  Failure one -- the milk curdled as I added the acid, and although I proceeded, the curd never became "stretchy" like it needed to.  It was very grainy.

Try two.  Different milk from local grocery store, organic, but no idea where from.  I chose to use some meso I had.  Better luck -- no curdle in the beginning -- but the end result was grainy, barely stretchy, and I ended up making cheese that looked like heads of cauliflower or brains because it was again, grainy.

Try three, tonight.  Used that same "different" milk, another new order of citric acid...and it curdled as I added it.

Three different batches -- three different wrong results.  I've never had a problem making cheese, much less mozzarella.  I've got to solve this before I try the more laborious ones, because I don't want to waste my time.

Any thoughts?  Any idea why I'm getting such a quick curdle?
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4 store-bought cow's milk mozzarellas, 1 rather rubbery raw cow milk mozz, cow's feta that melted, 0 ricotta

Offline Anonymous

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2013, 11:13:18 PM »
It might be the citric acid quantity your adding. Double check the quantity. It might also help if you ad the citric acid when the milk is at a lower temperature, then you bring up the temperature as described in the recipe.

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2013, 08:50:41 PM »
Rickis recipe on her web site called for 1 1/2 tsp of citric acid per gallon -- 250 cheeses says per 6 quarts.

I bought myself a pH meter for Christmas, and it has answered the question -- I added the acid, and the pH is at 5.56.  I was able to salvage the last batch, somehow, but this certainly explains why there was some curdling and failure.
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4 store-bought cow's milk mozzarellas, 1 rather rubbery raw cow milk mozz, cow's feta that melted, 0 ricotta

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2014, 01:00:06 PM »
Another failure. 

Initial pH 6.72
pH at add rennet -- 5.72
pH after cutting curd 5.5
12 hours later, pH at 5.45 -- I still can't get it to drop to the 5.2 I need.

From what I've been reading, pH should be 6.5 when adding rennet.  However, since this is direct acid, the pH drop isn't surprising.

I've microwaved a bit, but the curd just turns to mush.

I tried flocculation this time, but I didn't get it right.

After cutting the curd, what are the best methods for increasing acid?
Stirring while keeping heated around 100-105F?
Drain curd and let sit out?

Are these targets right?
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4 store-bought cow's milk mozzarellas, 1 rather rubbery raw cow milk mozz, cow's feta that melted, 0 ricotta

Offline Anonymous

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2014, 02:36:35 PM »
If you put the curd mass in the fridge at 5.5PH, it can take days before it reaches 5.2. You can try one of the following to help increase PH drop speed:

a. Keep the curd mass warm in the pot instead of putting it in the fridge. Flip the curd mass every 10 minutes. You can cut the mass after the first flip and continue the cheddaring process. This should only take between 20 to 30 minutes. So keep a watchful eye to make sure it doesn't over-acidify. This method is a bit risky for that reason.

b. Do step (a.) but at room temperature. It's safer as the ph doesn't drop as fast but can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours.

c. Put it in the fridge like you did, and when you're ready, take it out of the fridge and keep it covered on the counter at room temp. Flip the curd mass every 30 minutes until PH is ready. This too can take hours.

The key here is that the PH drops exponentially faster at warmer temperatures.

I never do direct acid version of mozz. I simply use some thermo culture and sometimes lipase. The recipe I follow gives me 100% success rate, it never fails. The whole process from start to finish takes me about 5.5 hours (with the cheddaring process). It's a great recipe from Linuxboy (Pav) that never fails for me. Give it a shot!

http://www.wacheese.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48:traditional-mozzarella-howto&catid=43:moderate-cook-temp&Itemid=66

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2014, 08:06:09 PM »
It was at room temp for 18 hours; when I got home from work, no change.

What bothers me is that the 30 minute mozzarella recipe had been foolproof, and now I struggle with even that -- and now I'm being more precise and I've got more knowledge!
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4 store-bought cow's milk mozzarellas, 1 rather rubbery raw cow milk mozz, cow's feta that melted, 0 ricotta

Offline Anonymous

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2014, 08:11:28 PM »
That's curious. The only other thing I can think of that would put the breaks on acidification is salt. As long as you don't salt before the 5.2 target, you should get there.

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2014, 08:30:37 PM »
I just tried some of these failures -- they are way too creamy -- and now I find out that they are bitter, too. 

If I'm correct, that means too much rennet.

Ah, I know -- this is the first time I've used liquid rennet (except for the first failure).  The measuring spoon I'm using is adjustable -- in other words, some might be leaking underneath the divider, increasing the amount.

Off to try another triple batch...

http://www.cheesemaking.com/howtomakemozzarellacheese.html

I've cut the curd, stirring, pH at 5.55, again.  Long way to go to 5.2.  I've got the curd, drained, sitting back in the pot at 105 again trying to lower the pH.

One other difference -- I'm using the DIY sous vide setup that I made.  Before, I was just warming things up quickly -- you would think that this process would work better.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 10:21:03 PM by Tom Turophile / CheeseStud »
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Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2014, 07:07:33 AM »
The water bath worked great -- overnight, the curd dropped to only 86 degrees despite having turned off the heaters.

Unfortunately, no acid change.

I'm wondering if it is because I am using citric acid -- can more acid really develop from that?  Or can that only happen with a bacteria culture?

Grasping at straws at this point.  I'm going to try again tonight, but using the stove.  Repeat it exactly like I used to.
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4 store-bought cow's milk mozzarellas, 1 rather rubbery raw cow milk mozz, cow's feta that melted, 0 ricotta

Offline Anonymous

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2014, 12:09:29 PM »
Your sous vide setup is ideal for making cheese. It's more precise than stove top. It's what I use too, I wouldn't change it. Anyways, I really don't know what else I could advise you with other than trying a recipe that doesn't require citric acid. Just a plain ol'thermo culture. Good luck with your next try.

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2014, 12:22:55 PM »
Your sous vide setup is ideal for making cheese. It's more precise than stove top. It's what I use too, I wouldn't change it. Anyways, I really don't know what else I could advise you with other than trying a recipe that doesn't require citric acid. Just a plain ol'thermo culture. Good luck with your next try.

Thanks.  Unfortunately I've only got meso, but I can pick up thermo today or tomorrow.
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Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: 3 bad mozz's in a row...why?
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2014, 11:24:57 AM »
Well, I finally had success -- although I'm not sure why.

Last attempt, from January 3rd.  I let it sit in the fridge for two days, where no more acidity dropped.  So I said "Why not?" let's stick it in the microwave...and I had the shiniest and smoothest mozzarella I've ever made.  The moisture was much lower than usual, which I'm sure was do to the extra days of draining.  It came out more like pizza mozzarella, but was still quite good.  The stretch on the curd was fantastic.

And the pH was still 5.4.  It's a new meter, so I need to recalibrate it.


That same night, I went back to the old way of doing things -- on the stove.  pHs were still consistently the same, but I got a great stretch.  The cheese had a very high moisture content, like a traditional buffalo mozzarella -- this is what I normally get.  However, it was still a bit runny and creamy.  The next day, picking it up with my hand, cream came off it as if it were not quite finished.  It's the first cheese on the left, and the one in the second picture (see the spatula for what I'm talking about).




CheeseStud(.com coming soon)
4 store-bought cow's milk mozzarellas, 1 rather rubbery raw cow milk mozz, cow's feta that melted, 0 ricotta