Troubleshooting

Cheese Making

When you start making your own cheese at home, you will start to find that there are a lot of little factors which will affect the quality of your cheese. Between temperature, moisture, salt and technique, you may find that occasionally your cheese doesn’t come out quite the way that you were expecting. Not to worry! I’ve got you covered with these common Q&A solutions below. Read through the information and you may find some interesting solutions.

Quick Answers To Common Cheese Problems

QA1 – Why Did My Curd Stick To My Cheese Cloth
QA2 – Why Does My Feta Melt When I Store It In Brine
QA3 – Why Do I Get Such A Low Ricotta Yield
QA4 – I Stored My Feta In Brine And Now It’s Too Salty
QA5 – Why Won’t My Mozzarella Stretch Properly
QA6 – Why Didn’t My Curd Knit Together
QA7 – How Do I Label Waxed Cheese

QA8 – Why Do I Keep Making Dry, Crumbly Cheese
QA9 – Why Isn’t My Camembert Growing White Mold

This series will continue with ongoing posts. However, for a quick answer, head over the forum where our fantastic Curd Nerd family and I should be able to help you out.

Other Curd-Nerd troubleshooting posts

Slip Skin On Mold/Mould Ripened Cheese
Cheese Mold/Mould – The Good The Bad The Ugly
Calcium Chloride – What Is It And When Should You Use It

 

Do you have any questions or comments about troubleshooting your home cheese making? Join the discussion over at the Curd Nerd Forum. We would love to hear from you!

Curd Nerd Forum

55 thoughts on “Troubleshooting

  • Pingback: How To Achieve A Curd – Adding Rennet » Curd-Nerd

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    Why does my mozarella wind up a crumbly ball instead of smooth and glossy? It tasted ok but didn’t have anywhere near the right consistency.

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      Hi Marianne. Thanks for dropping in! It sounds like your Mozzarella has become too acidic. If you let me know what recipe you used and any special methods I’ll do my best to help you with resolving this problem.

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        I am having the same problem. I’ve been successful in the past using a recipe from Instrctables, but this time I tried the “Heavenly Homemaker’s” recipe and it didn’t work. This recipe includes both buttermilk and citric acid. I’m not sure if this matters, but my buttermilk is homemade and much thicker than the kind you buy in the store. Could it have more acid? If so, how can I fix this? Does it help to let the curd rest for a while?

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          Hi Allison

          Thanks for you comment.

          To help you out, I’ll need a bit more information. What cheese are you trying to make?

          In answer to your questions, yes, your buttermilk may be more acid depending on the milk source and also, how long it has been left to ripen.

          Would love to help you further so let me know what you’re making and we’ll go from there : )

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        I have been trying to make mozzarella for awhile, I have had a couple of good results and several bad ones. I have tried many recipes including the one here the last attempt. I seam to end up with chunky, crumbly mess. I don’t yet have a PH testing method yet, but it sound like many people make mozzarella successfully without one. I want to make other cheeses but if I can’t consistently make simple cheeses like mozzarella then I don’t want to waist allot of time and money on failures. Please help!

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          Hi David

          It sounds like the acidity levels are off. This can cause the curd to break up and become crumbly when heated.

          For the recipe on this site, usually leaving the curd overnight (or even for up to 48 hours if necessary) will bring you into the desired pH range but there are obviously variables that can alter that, like the existing milk acidity and the state/amount of the cultures.

          If you are missing the mark, try either reducing the time, or increasing it, or, as you mention, you can invest in a pH meter to make sure you are in the range and reduce the number of ‘failures’ you have.

          Let us know how you go when you get your success. And of course, if you have any more questions, just shout : )

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        I initially was doing the 30-minute mozzarella technique, but it was quite cumbersome and quite finicky too. Wasn’t able to troubleshoot what would have gone wrong when my curds used to get crumbly. That is when I thought if trying the curd-nerd mozzarella making. Superb, simple and very melancholic to handle the final curd.

        Thanks to curd-nerd team for my Mozzarella’s are coming out excellent.

        A slight modification I do when I knead my curds, use the Anthony Augustino method for stretching.

        Very simple Alchemy of culture and rennet. One of these is more, either it turns crumbly or it turns bitter with time.

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    My Havarti came out on the salty side. Can I use the same milk-bath technique that you described for reducing the salt content in salty feta?

    Stan

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      Hi Stan

      Thanks for your comment!

      I can’t say that I have ever tried washing Havarti with milk and I’m not sure it would be as effective given the consistency of Havarti compared to Feta. But you could always try it and let us know : )

      Havarti tends to become more salty when it is aged for a longer period. How long did you age it for? It would be interesting to see if you have the same result with a shorter aging period.

      Good luck and let us know how you go.

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    I am a total novice at this game, and have just produced my second make of Feta (the first was delicious). As I type, the curds are draining but the whey has a nasty, slimy consistency. The cheese is draining more slowly than before, and I am worried that I have sinned somehow.

    Can you tell me what my sin is, exactly?

    Thanks in advance,

    Henry.

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      Hi Henry

      Thanks for visiting and posting your question.

      Slimy whey normally means that some form of contamination has occurred. Is your milk source clean and sterile? Did you keep everything hygienic during your make?

      If so, sometimes there is just something funky going on with the milk and you end up with a bad batch, no matter how clean and safe you keep things.

      Try another batch and let me know if you still have the same problem : )

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    I make my cheese from fresh goat milk. We have a small goat dairy farm. When I make cheddar it turns out a little dry. What am I doing to it to dry it out. I have tried a lot of different things and it is stumping me.

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      Hi Michael

      Thanks for visiting.

      There can be a number of factors that cause a drier cheese. It may be that the temperatures were too hot during the make, the curd was cut too small and stirred or handled too much, or the acidity was too high.

      What have you tried to remedy the situation so far? Let me know and hopefully we can figure out what you can try next to get a preferred result.

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    I need major help… When trying to make a simple cheese (heat the milk up, add vinegar, let curd) my milk wont curd right… It gets soupy and tiny tiny curds and i can’t figure out why? This is goat milk

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      Hi Abby

      Thanks for visiting. So I can help you out, let me know what kind of Cheese you are making, and what quantities you are using.

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    Have made my first batch of Camembert we have opened the first one and when we cut into it the middle was still hard but with some softening around it. Does it still need some more ripening time?

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      Hi Belinda

      Thanks for your question.

      It sounds like your Camembert needs to be slightly cooler when aging. Camembert, like all surface ripened cheeses, ripens from outside in and it seems that yours aren’t quite getting to the middle but are aging quicker on the outer, so it needs to be left a little longer, at a slightly cooler temperature.The change may be as minor as just 1 or 2 degrees difference.

      Try that and let us know how you go : )

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    I am new to cheese making, I was making a feta and my curds were broken up after I cut them. They were very fine curds. I decided to continue by putting them into muslin to drain and pressing them with about 5 kilos of pressure for about 45 minutes and then leaving the wheel in brine that I had made up. I am hoping that it is going to be edible. In essence what have I ended up with?

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      Hi Wade

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately I can’t tell you what you have ended up with but it sounds like you’ve definitely had trouble with your curd.

      You may end up with a very crumbly Feta, which some cheese makers make an effort to get. But you may also have a cheese which didn’t hold it’s form. It should still be edible though, as long as you don’t mind a bit of a different shape : )

      Let us know what you did end up with! I’d be interested to hear.

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        Thanks, I did end up with a crumbly feta which was really good ( no bias there). As it was my first try, I didnt know if I ruined it. Thanks so much for you help.

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    I am making chèvre from pasteurized goat milk. Every summer I struggle to keep the cheese smooth and silky. I experience a chalkiness and sometimes even a downright graininess. The temperature in the kitchen is 88-90 degrees during this period. I try to measure the pH to keep it consistent with previous batches but it is usually September before I get a pleasing batch again. The culture & rennet are the same for both substandard batches and great batches. What am I doing wrong?!

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      Hi Cheryl

      It sounds to me like an acidity issue.

      During the year, the quality of milk varies (with acidity levels rising and falling) as different feeds are available. This occurs even in store bought milk, as much as they try to control it.

      I would try reducing the amounts of starter during the summer months and see if this helps.

      Your temperatures will also play a part so try to keep them within range as much as possible. Some home cheese makers simply stop making cheese in the Summer, for this very reason but if you can control your temperatures somehow, obviously it’s more fun to keep going.

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    my swiss has no holes but cracks Please help, the taste is to die for …..but cracks… not so good

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      Hi Jonathan.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Did you add any propionic culture? And if so, was it enough for your quantity of milk?

      Cracks aren’t great, but as you’ve discovered, won’t alter the taste too much. It sounds like the cheese is either too low in moisture, or has dried too quickly, which can cause cracks.

      I say try again, and enjoy eating you experiments ; )

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    Just opened my first cheese – a Monterey Jack – that has been waxed for 6 weeks. The cheese has a really good taste, but is extremely crumbly. When I made it, I had to estimate the pressure in my home made cheese-press. Will too much pressure produce this crumbly texture in the finished cheese, or are there other possible causes?

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      Hi James

      Thanks for you comment.

      This crumbliness can be produced by too much pressure (with too much whey being expelled) but it can also be caused by too high acidity, too high temperatures during the make and also the curds being over handled.

      It is critical to stick to the recommended temperatures, and to heat slowly rather than increasing the temps rapidly and then trying to cool them. Cut curds to recommended sizes and only stir gently and as much as is needed to prevent the curds from matting.

      And last but not least, keep trying! Try changing/watching one part of your process and see how that improves your cheese. There’s definitely plenty of trial and error in cheese making but it’s a great learning curve.

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    I tried to make Halloumi. It ended up with a rubbery consistancy. It actually squeaks when you chew it. What did I do wrong? Everything else about it worked great.

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      Hi Sarah

      Halloumi does have particular squeeky quality to it when chewed (hence it often being called squeeky cheese), but if it shouldn’t be overly rubbery when cooked. Try the make again, making sure to not over ‘play’ or cut the curd. This should help the consistency.

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    My first batch of farmhouse cheddar is aging. There appears to be a black spot under the wax. Mold, I’m guessing. Should I cut it out and rewax? It is 2 weeks old. Thank you.

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      Hi Meghan

      I would suggest removing all the wax, washing the cheese with brine and air drying it, before re-waxing. I have found that trying to cut away one part of the wax, and then re waxing, doesn’t account for if the spores have already moved to other places under the wax. Washing the cheese and air drying for a few days will allow you to make sure all the spores are dealt with.

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    Hi,
    My first batch of Halloumi turned out great and has been in whey brine in the fridge for a couple of weeks and is still excellent. The second batch has melted through the whey on cooking. I have my own goats and used their milk , same recipe although I was called away during the cooking process of the curds. The set was perfect and the curds sliced well after draining and light pressing as per last time. Any ideas why this batch melted?
    Many thanks!

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      Hi Julie

      I’m a little confused by your question. What do you mean when you say it has melted through the whey on cooking?

      Would love to help you with this so if you can clarify, we’ll see what we can work out : )

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    My camembert doesn’t seem to get a good mould coverage I have done what you suggested on your troubleshooting page .I age it in wine fridge, I was recently been told that making sourdough bread and cheese in same room same day can affect it . is this true can you help. Sue

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      Hi Sue

      Making sourdough, and even having your sourdough bug in the same room when making cheese can definitely effect the process. This is usually more obvious when it comes to curd setting, but shouldn’t be as much of an issue with the mold development as long as you have the cheese stored elsewhere to ripen. The lack of mold could be due to not enough salt coverage (keeping unwanted molds at bay that compete with the desired molds), not enough of the mold spores added or sprayed, or the wrong temperatures for ripening. The later being a very common cause of problems. Also, make sure your molds are still in date.

      Give it another go, and let me know if you still have problems. If you can let me know more about your make process, I might have some ideas to help.

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    Hi, I don’t have access to fresh milk, so must use store bought cows milk. I am trying my hand at mozzarella and it never curds right. My milk doesn’t say ultra-pasturaized. Will adding a bit more citric acid help it? This is my third try. It tastes great but I can’t do anything like stretch it.

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      Hi Denise

      Are you using the 30 minute mozzarella recipe, or the recipe on this site? I don’t use citric acid in my recipe, but instead use a longer ripening time to get good curd, that stretches well. May be worth a go if you haven’t tried our recipe : )

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    I’m a total newbie and just tried starting Gouda. Naturally everyone is in the kitchen with me and I got distracted and forgot to put my starter in the milk. I have curds and whey now, but no starter in it. I know I can save the whey for other uses, but can I salvage the curds for something at this point? Hate to throw away 2 gallons of hard-earned goats milk.

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      Hi Susan

      You could use the curd to make Haloumi. Haloumi has no starter culture in it so if you have the curd and a container that will allow you to press the curds into a shallow, rectangular shape, then you can make Haloumi. Check out our Haloumi recipe to see how to do this.

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    I have made cheddar cheese curds a cpl times now and find they have very little to no taste to them unless i let them age for a week or so. I have tried fresh curd just after it was made at a cheese factory and it had good flavor. How do they get flavor into curds.

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      Hi Glen

      Are your curds salted at all? The additional flavour may be down to their milk supply, and cultures, but this is a fresh product so the only real control is in the ingredients.

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    Hi there!
    I’m having trouble getting my blue cheese to develop enough mold. It’s been 6 weeks now at 10deg and the cheese has only a few blue mold spots. The cheese has been spiked after 6 days but no mold has formed internally. Any info would be great! Thanks

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      Hi Laura.

      You should definitely be seeing some progress within 6 weeks so it sounds like your mold growth is being hampered by conditions of some sort. Are there other competing molds growing on the cheese? Are your humidity levels at the right point in your aging environment? And did the rest of the make go as expected? 10 degrees should be fine for aging, and you would need 95% humidity. Also, is there enough air flow to let the oxygen into the cavities, to encourage blue mold growth? These are a few things to consider, but let us know if we can help more.

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    When using Flora Danica culture does the quantity used vary according to the brand..

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      Hi Sue

      Yes it can. If there are no directions for quantity provided you can really only try it based on the recipe you are following and adjust depending on the results.

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    Just tried to make cheddar cheese curds for the first time. Bought a kit and followed the instructions to a T, but the curds are the consistency of ricotta and they taste like warm milk. The kit says it compensates for store-bought milk (which I used). Any ideas what’s wrong?

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      It’s hard to know exactly what has happened without knowing anything about the kit you are using or the instructions you are following, but it sounds to me like there has been either a contamination or over acidification of your milk. Your curd should be firm and able to be cut into without shattering. To try and correct, make sure EVERYTHING you use for cheesemaking, including your surfaces, is sanitised. Also make sure you are using fresh milk, and that you are following the directions, particularly measurements and temperatures, exactly. Good luck : )

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    why didnt my milk curd after adding the rennet?

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      It could be one of many reasons Jen. The amount of rennet, the quality of your milk, sanitisation of the area, time, temperature. Are you following a particular recipe? And do you think any of those variables listed might be part of the problem?

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    my cheddar milk didn’t form curd.. it seems clumpy at the bottom of the pot. I used 2 gal of whole milk, ripened it and used a 1/4 rennet tab… I am thinking I should have used more rennet… thinking this pot is headed to the drain! Advice?

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      Hi Frank. Are you following a particular recipe? I don’t use the rennet tabs so don’t know the quantities that should be use for them but did you dilute it in water first? This can help with dispersion.

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    I have tried to make colby and cheddar.all of them have holes.what went wrong?

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      Hi Patti

      Do you have any other ‘cultures’ on the go in your cheese making area i.e. bread or Kefir? This can introduce the right organisms for creating holes in your cheese if they’re busy doing their thing.

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    why did my rennet cheese turn out like rubber

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      There are a few reasons why your cheese might end up rubbery. Often, the culprit is too high temperatures when setting or cooking the curd. But it could also be too much handling of the curd as well.

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