First of all, I do appreciate your insight. I've read a number of your posts and always seem to learn something new. You are a great resource for information and it is appreciated.
I've often wondered about whether checking the whey would give the same Ph accuracy as measuring the curd, but I am limited by the type of Ph meter I own (and can afford at this point).
I would love to have one of the "flat probe" meters but that's pretty much out of the question until possibly next year. My wife has been very tolerant of my cheese making expenses so I don't want to press the issue.
At this point I'm sort of up in the air concerning the pressing under vacuum.
Of course I'm not using much vacuum at all with this experiment, but it has been interesting.
First of all, the temperature inside of the bag is noticeably warmer than the air temperature in our kitchen. When I open the bag to give the wheel a flip it honestly feels as if it's a good 10 degrees warmer than the outside air.
Also, this morning when I removed the follower from the mold I heard a sudden escape of air, that seemed to come from the wheel. I think the technical term would be "whoosh".
I have no idea why this would happen but it did surprise me. This sound did not come when I opened the bag but only when I pulled the follower from the top of the cheese. I don't know what this means but I found it interesting nonetheless.
I've also noticed a slight amount in the increase of whey I've gotten from this wheel.
That could be because of the vacuum effect or it could be because I am finally cooking at the proper temp. due to a thermometer calibration. Either way, something different is taking place, no matter how slight that difference might be.
I will be removing the wheel from the press within the next hour or so and other than when I flipped the wheel it has spent the entire pressing time under vacuum.
My plans are to let it air dry for a day or so and then cut it open to see the results.
So far I haven't seen any type of cheese explosion and hopefully I won't!
Oh, one other thing......
I really love the type of press that I use, but there is no way that I could ever achieve the amount of pressing weight that the commercial makers use. Even if my little press could handle the structural stress my mold would no doubt collapse under 25 p.s.i. and above.
I'll update this post with a pic of the wheel once it comes out of the mold.
Thanks for your input and have a great evening.