Linuxboy - thanks for clearing this up. Except for the potassium chloride I seem to have everything (though I have rennet, not renin) and the rest of your instructions are clear. Thanks for following up on this.
so... Last night, following this discussion I fired it up to check on a new type of washed rind cheese I am working on. It's 24 hour old, (not yet salted). According to my calculations it should have been at 4.6 pH. I cleaned the probe well with warm water and detergent, then with rinse liquid. I then stuck it in the cheese (seriously, these poke marks are becoming part of the presentation aspect of my cheese). The reading was clear: 4.6pH wait, no 4.7 ahh, 5.1, 5.0, 4.6 again. Okay Most of the time the number was indeed 4.6 which was perfect. The fluctuations in the numbers seem to have been affected by movement of the probe and I needed to rest it for 30 seconds or so to stabilize the reafing. As I moved it I saw water moving in it (it's a clear probe where you can see the wires). It seems that water has penetrated it when I cleaned it (or some liquid is supposed to be there and I've never noticed it before???). I would assume this confirms that this probe is defective. Wouldn't you say?
I still don't know what's the deal with my Hanna meter but it's a cheapo meter so maybe I should get a new one. I think that a ExTech ExStik 100 or 110 may do the Trick. They have flat probe as I understand it, and no futzing around with a screw to move it to 7.00pH or 4.01pH when calibrating. Perhaps my meter is just old. The thing is that the flat food probe for my meter costs as much as a brand new ExTech 100 anyway so maybe I should just get that. I wish I could afford the Hanna HI 99161. $350 is more than I wanted to spend but it's a quick pH meter that is made especially for dairy.
But the real lesson is that I had a cheese arriving at its proper and exact acidity levels at the right time without using any pH meter to begin with. I think this is because I learned to "feel" (look, smell, taste) the milk, whey and curd. I pay attention to the room conditions and I time the cheesemaking stages correctly. The more I do it, it seems the higher my success rate is.
Yes, I know that if I want to get serious about producing the cheese or certifying others for some of my originals I must get used to using the meter for consistency and as a safety control point for HACCP purposes. I do love that I have eliminated any dependency on this instrument for production of quality cheese and I just keep it as a control and alert point. In flying it's called Pilotage - the skill to fly by visual landmarks and by feeling the aircraft and environment. You have to perfect it before you can move to instrument flying.
In any case... any recommendations on what meter I need to purchase? Anyone?