Frankly, I fond that crottins are so delicate during draining and their first few days that it's a bit difficult to dunk them into brine.
I salt them with 2.5% - 3% of their body weight. It seems like a lot but much of it comes out during whey and moisture extraction. It is enough to start the osmosis, deter pathogens, flavor the cheese and help drain it quicker.
I am not a fan of pre-draining. I put it in chevre molds, wait 18 to 24 hours to drain, then turn the molds up side down onto a draining mat and continue for another day. I don't disturb it. I like the acidity buildup, but if I want less acidification I just move this process to the cave which is much cooler. Only when the cheese is firm enough and loose enough to fall out of the molds (36-48 hours) I take it out, salt it on the draining mat and let the salt do its drainage work. I turn it again 12 hours later and then it's time to go to the cave in the covered container. In the first 2-3 days I leave a large enough gap in the lid for air, otherwise humidity will be 100%. As the cheese releases less and less moisture, I close the lid further. At around day 5-7 the geo shows up (creamy yellowy) followed by the PC a day or two later.
As for your culture list:
- I think that Geo and PC should be the same amount. I know Tim Smith's recipe asks for a pinch of Geo and 1/8 teaspoon PC but my rule of thumb is that 1/8 teaspoon per gallon is the minimum amount I put in for any culture to work (Except Lipase where I go 1/16). Note that you made TWO GALLONS and Tim Smith's recipe calls for these quantities per ONE gallon.
- I see that you and a bunch of others have lately been using this strange SAM3 PC. I really need to get to the bottom of this. Why do people buy this bizarre strain of anti-mucor PC and not just use the classic and stable PC-VS?
- What did you use as starter?
- What kind of rennet did you use (can be related to the bitter flavor you mentioned)
I think that you were right when you said high temp/humidity were the probe of your results. I also think that there wasn't enough balance between the Geo and PC.
My 5 cents only (I make quite a bit Crottins). Fancois, Alex and Linuxboy really know their stuff when it comes to these.
Crottin is a very liberal cheese and there is more than a single way to making it. If this method doesn't work, try someone else's recipe. This shouldn't take you more than 2-3 tries to get perfect.