Author Topic: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)  (Read 1172 times)

Offline Rain Frances

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Hello Everyone,

I'm hoping I will find some help with my Mozzarella efforts.  I realize many people have asked for help on this subject. I have done searches all morning looking for advice (both here and over the internet and reading cheese books). I took a lot of time to make sure this post was complete and as clear as I could!  I have a few questions:



1. I have pretty successfully made 30-minute Mozzarella with the microwave method. It's easy but turns out slimy all the time. Just wondering if you think this is normal, if not, any suggestions? I use The Kitchn's 30-Minute Mozzarella Recipe.

2. I have just wasted 16 liters of milk ($$) :(  in the last few days trying to make a cultured (pizza) Mozzarella. They simply WON'T stretch!



a) This is the first one I tried using the New England Cheese Making Pizza Mozzarella  recipe. Wow was this complicated for me, but I followed the recipe to a T. At the end, it just didn't stretch at all. It made a good curd cheese but that's not what I wanted! We used it on poutine, so it wasn't a huge loss. I wrote to the company and the "cheese tech" Jim wrote back to me that I need to look into acidity and moisture retention. This is a foreign language to me and I have no real clue how to go about this. I figured I followed the recipe that he wrote for whole milk...so I'm not sure how to look into these things.



b) This is the second one I tried my "brain" Mozzarella, I used this recipe: Mozzarella: "Making Artisan Cheese" by Tim Smith .  Again I followed it to the word with the exception of the PH...I don't have a PH Meter so I tried taking a small amount of the curd out and seeing if it would stretch (when it was supposed to) - advice from New England Cheese Making's Jim the Cheese Tech.  :)

Observations: In the book Mr. Smith says 1/2 tsp liquid rennet or 1/4 tab...I thought they were equal. Also he suggests stirring the rennet into the milk for 5 minutes, everywhere I've read says no more than 30 seconds.

The one thing I did notice though is that during the cooking phase, the curds should stay at 105F. At one point, my thermometer jumped from 106F to 115F  :-\ ! so I quickly cooled it back to 105F by removing it from the heat source. This was about a lapse of 5 minutes. I included this tidbit just in case anyone thinks this is the reason it never stretched. But it doesn't explain my first attempt...just lost here.

I read various advice here on the Forum:

1. Put the citric acid in the milk while it's still cold. (non-cultured) - do I even heat it before the rennet phase?
2. Moisture retention can be solved by cutting the curd bigger. (cultured) - I read that for a drier cheese (pizza type), make the curds as small as possible.
3. Add calcium chloride to homogenized milk to "help mitigate the damage caused by homogenization and pasteurization" - I have some, but no recipe called for it so I never used it.
4. Don't use homogenized milk. - so 2%?, I have no access to raw milk here.
5. Use yogurt as a culture and ripen for 4 hours - I have some yogurt culture on the way, but it's a "Sweet Culture (Yogurt DS Sweet) - would that possibly work?

I don't have a PH meter yet, would that help?

I'm just confused and I do realize that Mozzarella is a finicky cheese to make. I just don't want to give up yet.

If anyone can help, I'll listen to all points of view and answer all questions!!!
Thanks!
Rain

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Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2017, 09:47:57 AM »
Does anyone have any insight?

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2017, 12:21:44 PM »
Mozz is NOT a time based process and pH is critical. With 30 minutes mozz, you get just 1 shot at getting the pH right. So a pH meter is really handy. But with cultured mozz, do a test stretch and if it won't stretch just let it sit 30 minutes more at room temp (or warmer). Repeat as necessary until you get a good stretch.
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Offline awakephd

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 01:07:07 PM »
Hi Rain, and welcome to the forum! Yes, you are tackling one of the most finicky of cheeses - many of us have made many very good cheeses, without ever truly succeeding with mozzarella (myself included). On the other hand, there are some here who seem to have the knack for it ...

Some answers to your questions and overall observations:

As you have learned, pH is the key to mozzarella. Specifically, you need a pH of around 5.3; higher pH (less acid), and the cheese won't stretch; lower pH (more acid), and it becomes grainy and crumbly.

There are two ways to get the milk to the proper acidity. One is to add acid - usually citric acid - this is the "30-minute" method. As Sailor has said, using this method, your acidity is controlled entirely by the amount of acid added; it won't become any more (or any less) acidic with time. So if the measurements are off -- and that can be caused by changes in the milk; milk does not all start at the same pH, and different types of milk can have more or less of a buffering action -- then you won't get a workable result.

The second method is to add a lactic-acid producing culture, specifically Streptococcus thermophilus (ST), which is the primary bacteria involved in yogurt - so yes, you can use the yogurt DS culture, or you can just use some yogurt from the store which contains live cultures, or you can get the basic ST culture. You indicate that you've been trying the cultured approach, so I assume you're using one or another of these? Some people do a hybrid, using some citric acid AND some culture - but I think most people just use one or the other.

If you are using citric acid, you are correct that you should add it (diluted in 1/4 cup or so of non-chlorinated water) while the milk is cold, then heat it. If you are adding culture, normally you will heat the milk to the target point first, and then add the culture and let it ripen for a bit. Either way, be sure to heat gently and evenly to reach the target temp, and then remove the heat before adding the rennet. The milk will hold the target temp, or close to it, for quite a while. Add your rennet, stir for no more than 1 minute (in my opinion, 5 minutes is WAY too long, and 30 seconds is sufficient), and leave it still for the time required to get a clean break. Do NOT add any heat during this time - that will disrupt the action of the rennet. Cut your curd, allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then gently stir. Only then should you add any additional heat required, again gently and evenly. Many people use a water bath around the cheese pot to help even out the addition of heat.

Once the curd has been cooked/stirred to the proper texture, you drain it. If you are using citric acid, you are ready to try stretching - as noted, your acid level is already established. But if you are using culture, the acidity is still developing as the culture works on the curd. And here's where recipes based on time can by WILDLY wrong - how fast the acid develops will depend on the milk, the temperature, the specific cultures, and maybe even the phase of the moon. In my experience, the recipes allow way too much time for this (IOW, the acidity develops much faster than they seem to expect). You have to keep checking it to catch it at the right pH. Without a pH meter, this means trying a little bit of the curd every so often to see if it is ready to stretch.

2% milk is no less homogenized than whole milk; it just has less fat overall. If you are using store-bought, pasteurized and homogenized milk, you will need to experiment to see which brand(s) work the best, avoiding anything that is ultra-pasteurized (which often includes "organic" milk). Yes, go ahead and add the CaCl - I add it before adding cultures; others add it after cultures / ripening, but before rennet; I've tried it both ways and can't tell any difference.

A great book for understanding what is happening with the milk and the variables that go into making cheese is Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking by Gianaclis Caldwell - highly recommended.

Stay with it, and keep asking questions - this is a great place to get help ... and to commiserate over less-than-optimal results! :)
-- Andy

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2017, 09:03:34 AM »
Mozz is NOT a time based process and pH is critical. With 30 minutes mozz, you get just 1 shot at getting the pH right. So a pH meter is really handy. But with cultured mozz, do a test stretch and if it won't stretch just let it sit 30 minutes more at room temp (or warmer). Repeat as necessary until you get a good stretch.

Hi Sailor, thanks for the information! I think I might look into a PH meter after all. I have no problem with the 30 minute Mozza using the microwave, but yes, it's the cultured one..I'm actually in the process of trying a 4th time as I type this...just waiting for my milk to warm up.

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2017, 09:28:16 AM »
Hi Rain, and welcome to the forum! Yes, you are tackling one of the most finicky of cheeses - many of us have made many very good cheeses, without ever truly succeeding with mozzarella (myself included). On the other hand, there are some here who seem to have the knack for it ...

Some answers to your questions and overall observations:

As you have learned, pH is the key to mozzarella. Specifically, you need a pH of around 5.3; higher pH (less acid), and the cheese won't stretch; lower pH (more acid), and it becomes grainy and crumbly.

There are two ways to get the milk to the proper acidity. One is to add acid - usually citric acid - this is the "30-minute" method. As Sailor has said, using this method, your acidity is controlled entirely by the amount of acid added; it won't become any more (or any less) acidic with time. So if the measurements are off -- and that can be caused by changes in the milk; milk does not all start at the same pH, and different types of milk can have more or less of a buffering action -- then you won't get a workable result.

The second method is to add a lactic-acid producing culture, specifically Streptococcus thermophilus (ST), which is the primary bacteria involved in yogurt - so yes, you can use the yogurt DS culture, or you can just use some yogurt from the store which contains live cultures, or you can get the basic ST culture. You indicate that you've been trying the cultured approach, so I assume you're using one or another of these? Some people do a hybrid, using some citric acid AND some culture - but I think most people just use one or the other.

If you are using citric acid, you are correct that you should add it (diluted in 1/4 cup or so of non-chlorinated water) while the milk is cold, then heat it. If you are adding culture, normally you will heat the milk to the target point first, and then add the culture and let it ripen for a bit. Either way, be sure to heat gently and evenly to reach the target temp, and then remove the heat before adding the rennet. The milk will hold the target temp, or close to it, for quite a while. Add your rennet, stir for no more than 1 minute (in my opinion, 5 minutes is WAY too long, and 30 seconds is sufficient), and leave it still for the time required to get a clean break. Do NOT add any heat during this time - that will disrupt the action of the rennet. Cut your curd, allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then gently stir. Only then should you add any additional heat required, again gently and evenly. Many people use a water bath around the cheese pot to help even out the addition of heat.

Once the curd has been cooked/stirred to the proper texture, you drain it. If you are using citric acid, you are ready to try stretching - as noted, your acid level is already established. But if you are using culture, the acidity is still developing as the culture works on the curd. And here's where recipes based on time can by WILDLY wrong - how fast the acid develops will depend on the milk, the temperature, the specific cultures, and maybe even the phase of the moon. In my experience, the recipes allow way too much time for this (IOW, the acidity develops much faster than they seem to expect). You have to keep checking it to catch it at the right pH. Without a pH meter, this means trying a little bit of the curd every so often to see if it is ready to stretch.

2% milk is no less homogenized than whole milk; it just has less fat overall. If you are using store-bought, pasteurized and homogenized milk, you will need to experiment to see which brand(s) work the best, avoiding anything that is ultra-pasteurized (which often includes "organic" milk). Yes, go ahead and add the CaCl - I add it before adding cultures; others add it after cultures / ripening, but before rennet; I've tried it both ways and can't tell any difference.

A great book for understanding what is happening with the milk and the variables that go into making cheese is Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking by Gianaclis Caldwell - highly recommended.

Stay with it, and keep asking questions - this is a great place to get help ... and to commiserate over less-than-optimal results! :)

Hi Andy :)

Thanks so much for your detailed response! Your post was so helpful to me. I was overwhelmed with your response at first, but I slowly read it and it's all understood! :)

I'm using a direct set Thermo culture, following the New England Cheese Company's cultured Mozzarella recipe. I wrote to Sailor above that I'm just starting my 4th attempt.

Regarding the calcium chloride, there are so many mixed messages out there. I read that you should never use calcium chloride for cheeses that need a stretch! This from New England Cheese Company. I actually have Gianaclis's book and I was chatting with her on FB the other day regarding her "Traditional Mozzarella" recipe she posted on her blog. She uses calcium chloride. I told her I was using 3.25% homogenized grocery store milk and she suggested I sprinkled a little Meso culture into the milk at first to make up for it being lost in the pasteurization and homogenization. She wrote "Many of these traditional recipes (which is what I used) are designed for fresh, raw milk that has a decent amount of its own mesophilic bacteria and is also in better shape for ripening."

So I'm adding the calcium chloride and I used about 1/8 tsp of Meso culture...I'll still use the Thermo too when my milk reaches 100F. (I'm just halving the recipe and using 4L...don't want to waste too much again just in case!)

I'm going to check the stretch much earlier than the recipe says to, thanks for that suggestion. This recipe calls for the curd to sit warming (while activating the acids) for 2 hours before checking. Actually something I read on Curd Nerd...she wrote that she lets her curd ripen for 48 hours before stretching it, at room temperature. If my method today fails again, I'm willing to try that too! Never give up! :)

Gosh I hope this works out today! I'll let you know!  But I really think that a PH meter will come in handy...we eat lots of things that use melted Mozza in our comfort food home! I really want to be successful!

Either way I'll be posting the results! :)
Rain

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2017, 08:35:06 AM »
Well, just a little update. At the moment Mozzarella #4 using Gianaclis' "Traditional Mozzarella" (from her blog) with her tips FAILED. Never stretched. I used all the tips given to me above as well. After the curds cooked, I checked every 20 minutes for 4 hours for the stretch test. I did read an article on "Curd-Nerd" that the lady there lets her Mozzarella ripen up to 48 hours on the counter and has never had an issue and doesn't use a PH Meter. I figured, what do I have to lose at this point beside 4 liters of milk!!

So my curd is sitting on the counter and just before dinner, I'll try a stretch test, that'll have been 24 hours. If nothing happens, I'll try tomorrow after 48 hours.

But I'm definitely buying a PH meter before I try again!

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Offline Gregore

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2017, 10:09:59 AM »
I suspect that 4 hrs is not enough to reach ph 5.4 ,

 my  wild guess would be at 70 degrees ( temp matters a lot ) it would take 6 to 7 hrs or possibly even longer .  At that rate of ph fall you will have a 2 to 3 hr stretch window.

One other thing is that. Curds will squeak a little  when bitten into , this means you are close to stretching ph .

I recommend getting a seed mat  ( used for keeping seedlings warm) it will give you a constant temp for the curds to rest at . If you do use one , start checking stretch / squeak at 4 hrs  then every half hr.  My seed mat runs at about 80f and gets my curd to ph 5.4 or so in 4 to 5 hrs.

On the next make keep at it , if they start to crumble , then you are too low in ph . I feel you are trying too soon and then stopping before you have reached to correct ph .

Good luck

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2017, 10:15:27 AM »
Thank you Gregore! :)

I like the seed mat idea. I was planning to get some for my seedlings this winter anyway and never thought of keeping the cheese warm that way. Just a clarification, when you say 70, you mean F? Sorry for the newbie question.

My last batch (attempt #3) did squeak a little...maybe I should have waited longer! It's frustrating reading a recipe that says 2 hour ripening is enough, when in fact it could take much longer.

I'm NEVER giving up until I get my Mozzarella right! :) Thanks for the support!!

Rain

Offline mobius

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2017, 03:32:46 PM »
You go girl! :D

You dont need to answer my other post in introductions, I found your process here. Really annoying those recipes give imprecise directions >:(
I definitely think the CaCl is needed, just my opinion, for homogenized milk and I will probably use that in every recipe. A heating pad with very low temp setting could maybe be used in place of the seed mat...
So many cheeses, so little time!

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2017, 04:02:45 PM »
Thanks for the support Mobius! :) I actually do have a heating pad, that is a great idea. I'm just about ready to try the "stretch test" after 24 hours of ripening. I hope this works, like you said in your intro post, it shouldn't be this hard. But so many people have trouble with Mozzarella. Even Gianaclis told me that quote "It's not YOUR fault" lol...she's very nice. She said one time she was preparing a Mozza for a class she was giving and it never stretched either lol...it happens to the best of us. But I'm convinced a PH meter will do the trick for me, well, I just hope so!

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2017, 04:30:06 PM »
24 hour ripening update:

I tried the stretch test and though it's not perfect, it's looking good! Much better than yesterday, so I'm leaving it another 24 hours and trying again tomorrow.



I was playing with it a little in the last photo! I was pleased as punch that it didn't break when I rolled it around and stretched it out, but it did tear a little bit, yesterday I couldn't even stretch it whatsoever without it tearing immediately!  ^-^

Offline mobius

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2017, 04:38:58 PM »
oh very nice, heading in right direction: applause!

Another thought...your water source? Distilled? I have a well so chlorination is not an issue but I might still use distilled. I am just about to call my dairy to find out at what heat they pasteurize...
So many cheeses, so little time!

Offline Rain Frances

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2017, 05:38:00 PM »
Thanks for the applause! I hope there will be more tomorrow... I never use tap water so that's not it. It's a PH mystery to me...I hope my PH meter arrives soon so I can make another batch.

Offline AnnDee

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Re: Another Mozzarella Post! (Cultured and Non-Cultured Questions)
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2017, 07:42:53 PM »
Hi Rain,
I may be wrong here, but it seems to me the PH has gone too low on this one. I can see that now the cheese has gone grainy and breaking. When my mozzarella curd PH is still too high, it will stretch a little but it is not pliable and dull (in appearance) but it was not grainy. On the other hand, I have few instances where my mozzarella curd has gone lower than PH 4.8 and it was grainy like that.
But then again, I may be looking at the picture incorrectly. I hope I am wrong and you have a successfull batch though  ;D
Ann