Thanks so much for the willingness to help! I really appreciate all of your input.
I am using 2 gallons of store bought milk, and it is definitely not ultra-pasteurized. I use the same brand (though 2%) to make feta, and it has always turned out great.
The recipe that I am working from does not give quantities for CaCl, so I just added the same amount I use for feta, but I could add more.
I live in Davis CA, and the water here is well water. I just looked up the citys' info, and they do say that it is chlorinated. Hopefully that is my problem. I'm guessing that it is only slightly chlorinated, since I cant taste it at all, and it doesn't seem to effect my other cheeses. I will now use distilled water.
With respect to culture quantity, I used to quantity listed on the side of the container doubled since I am working with 2 gallons. Looking again though, it seems that the listed volume is for 2 gallons. Now I wonder if the reason the chlorinated water wasn't bothering my feta is because I was using twice the normal volume of culture. Interesting.
Ok, so my plan for next time is to use 1 teaspoon CaCl instead of 0.5, distilled water, and half the amount of culture. I will try chedder again under those conditions as well.
The step by step directions:
1. Heat 2 gallons of milk to 90. Add starter and let sit for 10 min
2. Add diluted CaCl if neccessary
3. Add rennet (1/2 teaspoon in 1/4c water)
4. Let milk sit at 90 fo 1 hour or until it gives a clean break
5. Cut curds into 1/2 inch cubes and let sit for 10 min
6. Drain off 1/3 of the whey, and raise the temp to 92 by adding 175 degree water
7. Let curds sit for 10 min and drain off whey to level of curds
8. Add enough 175 degree water to bring the temp up to 100
9. Keep at 100 for 15 min
10. Let curds set for 30 min
11. Pour off remaining whey
I read about pressing the curds lightly in whey before putting in the cheese press, and was planning to try it if I got to that stage
12. Place curds in mold and press at 20 lb for 20 min, 40 lb for 20 min, and then 50 lb for 12-16 hours
13. Soak cheese in brine for 12 hours
14. Air dry for 3 weeks the wax and age for 3-4 months
So I will try that with adjusted quantities. It sounds like you think 130 is better then 175 degrees. I can do that instead of what my book recommends.
I looked at the recipe from dairyfoodsconsulting, and was wondering about the pressing weights. It doesn't seem like 3 lbs on my 2 lb cheese would get me very far. Am I mistaken?
Thank you so much for all of the information and insight. Hopefully my previous lack of success was just due to my confusion about quantities and chlorination. I will give it another try tomorrow, and will hopefully have a cheese to show for my effort. At least the milk hasn't been wasted - my chickens don't mind mushy curds in the least.
Thanks again, Myrrh