I said I would post the findings for a few academic articles on cheesemaking, so here’s one of the more interesting and practical articles I found. I’m sure most of you have already considered the technique described here, but it’s new to me.
“Using fermented cheese whey to reduce acidification time of Oaxaca cheese.” Aguilar-Uscanga, Blanca R., Montero-Lagunes, Maribel, De la Cruz, Javier, Solis-Pacheco, Josue R., Garcia, Hugo S. AGROCIENCIA. 40:5, 570 -575
One of the obstacles to commercial production of Oaxaca cheese (read: mozzarella) is the long wait time for the pH to drop to 5.2-3. The incubation period can be reduced with the addition of citric acid, but that changes the chemical composition of the cheese and has detrimental effects to both the flavor and texture of the product. This article explores an alternative method of adding acid: whey that had been let to ferment overnight.
The study tested 9 variations of three different methods. First, a control batch was allowed to acidify normally (a nine hour process). Second, whey was added to the milk with the culture to 10, 20, and 30 percent of volume of the milk. Third, fermented whey used to replace fresh whey after the curds are cut to 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 percent of the volume of milk.
Each of these variations resulted in a substantial decrease in the make time. Whey added directly to the milk had the most dramatic results, up to three hour difference, which is a 35% reduction. Fermented whey replaced for fresh whey was also effective, with up to a 1:45 reduction in make time.
None of these treatments affected the chemical composition of the product like the addition of citric acid would. The cheese remained essentially the same, except for the 20% and 30% additions of whey to the milk, which resulted in a slighter softer and less elastic cheese. Of all 9 variations tested, the tasters preferred 20% whey added to the milk (a treatment that reduced the total make time by 25%).
I found this to be an interesting idea, perhaps more useful to an operation that made a batch of cheese daily and could simply use whey from the day before. Someone who habitually makes mozzarella could use this method to substantially reduce the total make time.
It would also be interesting to see the effect of a combination of techniques. For example, 50% replacement reduced the time by almost 2 hours with no effect on the product and 30% addition reduced the time by almost 4 hours with only a slight effect. Could these two techniques be used simultaneously?
This article also neglects to mention the cause of the acidity changes. Is it solely the result of the acid present in the fermented whey or does the addition of more lactic bacteria also contribute?
Could fermented whey be used to jumpstart the acidity of other cheeses? Maybe 10% or 20% volume of whey could be added with the starter bacteria, allowing the addition of rennet without an incubation period.