Group C: Cheese

Group C members: Ann Beimers, Kenton Nagle, Soren Eversoll, Eila Planinc

First set of Steps

Weight of milk: 8lbs 7.3 oz

Time to reach 90 degrees: 4:20

While heating up the milk we a non-insignificant amount of dirt and ashes from other fires was blown into our milk. Additionally, the rennet tablet did not dissolve easily into the water, we had to break it up with our fingers to speed up the process.

Vinegar being poured into milk
Adding vinegar to the milk
Pot over fire
Heating the milk to 90 degrees

Second set of Steps

20 minutes after adding the rennet was when our cheese was supposed to be ready—signified by a “clean break” in the curd. Our cheese at this time only had a thin film on the surface and was otherwise not solid enough to create the “clean break.” On Jake’s advice, we waited another 10 minutes for the curd to set, after which we we able to get a “clean break.” A potential reason for this extra time is that our milk was staying at a consistent 100 degrees, higher than the 90 that the lab manual said. However, as every group had to wait 10 extra minutes this probably was not the reason for the curd taking longer than expected to set.

Pot of milk with oily patches on the ground
Milk before cutting the curds

Third set of Steps

In this section of the lab there was not much data to record as we were waiting while the curds continued to set. However, it was interesting to note how much the cheese/milk was transformed visually after cutting the curds. What began looking like a fairly homogenous white liquid—with some spots of spirited fat—became two very distinct substances: a translucent yellow-ish liquid—the whey, and a spongy white solid—the cheese.

Cutting the curds
Cutting the curds
Chunky white globs in yellow whey
Curds and whey after being stirred

Fourth and Fifth set of Steps

Weight of whey after squeezing curd: 7lbs 1 oz

Weight of curd before squeezing: 3lbs 10 oz

Weight of curd after Squeezing: 1lb

We noticed, during the thirty minutes of draining the curds, that they shrunk significantly, due to all the whey being drained out. However, what surprised us more was how much the curds shrunk when we wrung them out, even after they had been draining for 30 minutes. The texture of the curds before we had compressed them into a solid mass, but after we had squeezed them out, looked something like feta cheese crumbles one might put on salad. we had not expected it to be so crumbly so we had to re-wrap it in the cheesecloth and compress it thoroughly to actually create a solid mass.

Curds in cheesecloth lined colander
Draining the curds
6 mozzarella-like discs of curd on a cutting board
Curds after being pressed and cut

Making Mozzarella and Whey Cheese

We decided to set aside about 10% (1.6 oz) of our curd to add to our whey cheese. The rest of our curd (14.4 oz) we prepared to make mozzarella with.

Our mozzarella did not stretch well after we put the chunk of pressed curd into the 150 degree water for five minutes. The mozzarella gained small holes as we stretched it and is wasn’t as smooth as it was supposed to be. However, we did put it back into the hot water for a minute and then soaked it in the salt bath.

Ann pulling the cheese to stretch it
Stretching the mozzarella

After the cheese had cooled we tasted it. The general consensus amongst our group was that it was edible, but not great tasting.

Our whey cheese did not turn out as well. The curds we put in were essentially the only cheese we got out of the process, our whey cheese only being 0.5 ounces heavier than the curd we put in (2.1 oz total). Moreover, our whey cheese was much stiffer than our mozzarella and had a somewhat acidy taste. Our low yield and bad consistency may have been because our whey boiled over and lost some of the necessary compounds to make whey cheese.

Crumbly cheese chunks in a cloth
Whey cheese
Translucent whey with suspended particles
Whey after making whey cheese

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