Please help a newb! I've made paneer for years, and recently made homemade yogurt successfully, but I've just started to try a rennet cheese for the first time, and it's failing. I'm trying to make David Fankhauser's neufchatel, but instead of getting a clean break, I'm getting a mass of slime that I call Moo-cus. If I can find a way to market it, I can make millions, but until then, I need help figuring out what's wrong.
So my ingredients are:
1 gallon of store-bought pasteurized whole milk
1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
1/4 tablet Junket rennet
calcium chloride (BrewCraft brand)
Technique: (as according to the recipe) I add the buttermilk to the milk in a sterilized pot and heat it to 67'F, stir in rennet dissolved in cool water, and let it sit overnight undisturbed.
On attempt #1, I followed instructions to a T and I never got close to a clean break the next morning. What I did get was a potful of disturbingly slimy Moo-cus (TM) with only a slight amount of whey separation.
On attempt #2, I added 1/4 tsp calcium chloride to the milk before heating it, thinking that was the problem. I got something closer to a clean break, but not quite, and a few inches below the surface was the same Moo-cus as before. I decided to go ahead and strain it to see what would happen (what could I hurt?). After many hours of draining in a cheesecloth-lined colander, I got something somewhat reduced enough to hang. I let it hang for almost 24 hrs in a fridge and got something like thick sour cream, kinda flavorless, and, yes, mucusy.
On attempt #3, I researched rennet and found out a) I need to use distilled water, and b) I should add the rennet as soon as it's dissolved. So I did those, not dissolving the rennet until the milk was up to temp. I also increased the calcium chloride to 1/2 tsp, since it had seemed to help some in batch #2 and, as everyone knows, more is better.
The result is more of a crumbly break and something resembling better curds (better separation of curds from whey) but still not completely successful.
What do I do now? More calcium? More Junket? Please help!