Fresh and Soft Cheese

30 Minute Mozzarella

Not Stretching

Q. I tried making 30 minute mozzarella today for the first time. It seemed to go well, but, in the end, I was not able to get the cheese to stretch. I even re-heated an extra time in the microwave. I also did not get it to knead into a shiny ball. It tastes good but looks almost like curds. What did I do wrong?

A. This can be the result of curd that has dried out too much in the early stages. A good level of moisture is needed for a nice smooth stretch. Next time, try cutting the curds a little larger and stir them for a shorter period of time.

Goat Milk Mozzarella

Q. Can make 30 minute mozzarella with fresh goat milk? 

A. Yes, but it will depend on your specific milk. Some cheese makers have fabulous success while others have a hard time getting a good stretch. A lot depends on the particular herd so it's hard to generalize, but here are some considerations:

  • Goat milk typically needs 25-50% less rennet
  • Goat milk may need a slightly lower temperature for each recipe step.

Our mozzarella recipe is based on standardized and pasteurized cow milk, usually from the store shelf because this is what most home cheese makers have access to. Goat milks composition changes dramatically throughout the season. Summer milk has a low fat content, fall milk has a high fat content.

The way to produce the best mozzarella using this fresh milk is to drop temperatures back to 86-88°F before adding the rennet. This will form a curd that will retain more moisture. Minimal heating of the curds is needed, you may find that 90-98°F is sufficient. Really good milk, is almost ready to stretch, at this low temp.

The point where the curds began to stick and get stringy is the time when the curds are almost ready to stretch.  

Softer Mozzarella

Q. The mozzarella came out good, but is drier and harder than we would like. Is there a way to make it softer?

A. To achieve a softer cheese, you will need to keep more moisture in the curds. To get a smoother, more supple cheese, try cutting the curds a bit larger and stirring a bit less. Also limit the amount of stretching and heating; the more you heat and work the curd, the drier it will become. Some people find that stretching like taffy, and avoiding the kneading portion, keeps the cheese softer as well. 


Q. I need some help for my second try with this cheese; the first one had two significant flaws: an acidic, bitter after taste and the consistency was more like feta cheese. I used commercially pasteurized whole milk (not UHT), and homemade Bulgarian yogurt (L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, L. acidophilus), as I didn't have the Y1 culture.

I've used a 1/4 tsp Calcium chloride. The coagulation was good but after the second cut, as soon as I started to slowly turn the curds become pretty small (pea size). What I can do to increase the firmness of the curds? Is the bitterness just the result of using a different culture? 

A.Different cultures can lead to different timings.

Your description shows a weak curd at cutting. When this happens the proper draining is an issue and leaves residual lactose which tends to continue to ferment and produce a high acid flavor and a chalky firm cheese body. Make sure you wait until the curd formation is firm enough to cut and hold its shape.

Whey Ricotta

Q. I just made my first cheese - farmhouse cheddar. Everything worked great, and my mold overflowed with curds. However, I tried in vain for several hours to make ricotta from the good amount of whey that I produced.

I carefully heated the whey and watched the temperature religiously right up into the 195-200°F range and held it there, but I never saw more than very tiny little curds precipitate. In desperation, I added a tablespoon of lemon juice, to no avail.

A. Ricotta is comprised of different proteins from the cheese curds. They are released from the whey due to heating.

Those little bits moving out around the rim are your ricotta trying to form. Adding the lemon juice defeated them and the hard little bits you collected were the result. In general, ricotta needs a sweet whey and adding the lemon juice probably made things too acidic.

Patience is important here because it will take about 20 minutes, when at temperature, for them to unite and float to the surface where you can scoop the mass off. Adding more acid and stirring a bit too much will defeat the process.

Q. I just got my 30 Minute Mozzarella Kit and I want to make ricotta from the whey, however, your book (Home Cheese Making) says it cannot be done. Why are your directions different from all of the ones I find online that say it can be done?

A. The mozzarella kit is a process in which no culture is used to produce acidity.  Instead, citric acid is added to the milk to provide this acidity. Therefore, the milk goes from being very sweet to it's final acidity for stretching the cheese. This means that any whey draining from the curds will already be too acidic to develop a good ricotta.

You have read about a different process in which bacterial culture slowly develops the acidity. In this case, the whey draining from the curds is taken off earlier in the process and is still sweet enough to form a good ricotta. They are two very different processes.

Ricotta Salata 

Q. I tasted my Ricotta Salata at the 30-day interval and it seems a bit overwhelming in saltiness. At this stage, it's crusting over with salt on the outside and pretty much tastes like a "block of salt."

I know that even its name declares it as a "salted" cheese, but following one of the only instructions I could find written on this variety, I re-salted it and re-turned it for the first seven (7) consecutive days following molding/pressing, and stored it in my special cheese fridge all-the-while.

Do you think that was overkill on the salting (7 days worth)? Should it have been salted only once at the un-molding stage and then just turned and aged for 30 days as is?

A. This could be a couple of things. Your salting sounds a bit overzealous. We usually recommend salting every other day for 7-10 days. (For a half to three quarter pound cheese, maybe 1/2 tsp each time.)

Also, the ricotta going into the form should have good moisture. Otherwise, the salt does not form a brine and move into the cheese. Your salt crust may be an indication of this. If it seems too dry, perhaps you are cooking too long. A good Salata will never taste heavily salted.


Q. My first batch of Chevre was sweet and creamy. I made another batch, and it was much tangier and lumpy. Could it be because it sat longer during the draining process?

A. A longer drain time will result in more acid development, which in turn will lead to a drier, less creamy final cheese. 

Q. I know the directions state 1 gallon to 1 packet. Is this literal, or is there a range that can be used? Like up to 2 or 4 gallons. I ask because i have seen other cultures sold where their directions will state a specific amount is good for 2-4 gallons but the actual culture amount does not change.

A. There is always a specific amount of culture to use. It usually depends on the specific cheese and milk being used..

The info on those other packs you mention is a very general guide and not targeted to a specific cheese. Our packet is designed for that specific amount of goat milk

Using more or less milk will result in under or over ripening. 

Cheese Curds

Q. With my first batch of curd cheese, the finished curds are not firm and rubbery and there is no squeak.

A. Once made, Cheese Curds only squeak for a short time. When you put them in the fridge, they no longer seem squeaky after a few days. That's why they're best eaten fresh. If they aren't squeaky when eaten fresh, you may have left too much moisture in the final cheese.


Q. I am a farmer milking two Jersey cows. I recently tried to make a quick batch of Paneer with my surplus. I was following your recipe and added 1 tsp of Citric Acid, dissolved in 16 oz of water.

The curds barely formed. I was worried, but as I had added all the acid, I decided to let it sit and be patient. Total flop. It remained the consistency of runny yogurt and never solidified.

Should I have added more acid because it was farm-fresh milk? If so, like double? Ricotta has also been frustrating to me. I find it difficult to achieve curd formation. The whey is extremely milky and the yield of cheese very low.

A. It's the high temperature and acid addition that make these cheeses.

Once the milk reaches the high temperature and the acid is added and stirred in, allow it to set still for a few minutes and watch for small flakes to form. You will likely need more acid with this milk due to the high solids of the Jersey milk, so mix double the acid. Use half of this to start, then wait a couple minutes to see if flakes form. If not, add a bit more acid and repeat. Keep repeating small additions until you see a result of flakes forming. If it works, note the % of acid solution used and use that for future batches.

On a side note, you mention using your "surplus" milk and if that is more than 2-3 days old or already developing its own acidity, it may be past the point of making ricotta or paneer.

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