Hi OzzieCheese,

Sounds like the make went very well. If you're looking for some techniques to help improve consistency between makes, I would suggest learning about the "floc" method for determining when to cut the curds. It's pretty simple. You start timing when you add the rennet. And, at this point, place a small plastic bowl on the milk (sterilised of course). At this point the bowl will float freely. Starting around 5 minutes or so, tap the bowl gently, it will probably still float freely. Each minute, tap the bowl. At some point, probably as you start to get close to around 10 minutes, the bowl will start to act like it's got it's feet in mud. It will not float as freely. When you notice this, start tapping every 30 seconds. You'll notice the movement is thicker, like the bowl is on top of a milk shake rather than milk. Eventually, it will just stick in one place, the milk will hold onto it like a cartoon glue patch. That's the point where your milk has "gelled", which is the floculation point. Check your watch and determine how much time has gone by since you added the rennet. You want this time to be somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes. If it's shorter, you're using too much rennet so cut back next time. If it's longer, you could stand to use a bit more. For simplicity, let's say our gell time was 10 minutes.

For caerphilly you then take this 10 minutes and multiply by 3 (30 minutes), because caerphilly has a 3x floc multiplier for a typical make. That means the time to cut your curds is 30 minutes after adding the rennet, so in 20 minutes from your gell point! Don't worry about a clean break or not, just cut at the 30 minutes post rennet time.

If you want a moister cheese, increase your floc multiplier (i.e. for a moister caerphilly, use a multiplier of 3.5x, so we would cut at 35 minutes post rennet, rather than 30; of course, had we used slightly less rennet, and had a floc time of 15 minutes, we would be looking at cutting at either 45 or 52.5 minutes for 3x and 3.5x) to get effectively the same result.

I've been using this now for quite some time and it's really simple (takes longer to explain than to do). It seems to work really well.

Also, I find that I get a better curd set if I add my CaCl2 just before the rennet rather than at the start.

Anyway, welcome to the site. Don't forget to post a photo of your cheese, and to post your tasting notes when you finally cut into it.

- Jeff