Mozzarella, mozzarella, why dost thou fail me? Part 2

Watch out high school science teachers…here I come!

My Hypothesis:  The higher the pasteurization temperature of grocery store purchased cow’s milk of four different available 1/2 gallon varieties with similar expiration dates will negatively affect the outcome of homemade mozzarella.

The four milks I used for the mozzarella making experiment, and their details, are as follows:

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Meadow Gold:  1-800-395-7004, www.meadowgold.com,  I spoke to Derick.  He says the milk is pasteurized at 161 degrees for 15 seconds.  My Colorado Springs milk comes from Meadow Gold Plant in Englewood Co.  All milk is purchased directly from farmers who are local to my region or my state.  If they can’t get enough milk from Colorado, they might get it from Utah, Wyoming or New Mexico.  The milk has a 16 day shelf life.  Just the ingredients on the panel are added to it.  The milk container is food grade plastic.  He didn’t know how quickly the milk arrives to the plant after being milked.  Once it arrives at the plant, the maximum hold time it stays there is 48 hours, then it is shipped to the store within 24 hours after pasteurization.  Effective July 1, 2008, they do not use milk from cows treated with rbst.  Antibiotics can be used but the affected cow would be removed from the herd.  Milk is not tested for antibiotics.

He also mentioned that each milk company has its own proprietary information as far as processing.  When I asked him what could be proprietory about milk processing, he couldn’t tell me/wouldn’t tell me.  He did say that bacteria levels, airborne bacteria, handling at the store, and temperature would all be factors.

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King Soopers Milk:  1-800-697-2448, I spoke to Dianne.  She told me they pasteurize their milk at 170 degrees for 16 seconds.  (“If it says ultra pasteurized it is heated to 178 for 16 seconds”).  The processing plant is in North Hendren, Wisconsin, she said I couldn’t call the plant directly.  The shelf life is 7-10 days.  She had no information regarding how quickly the milk gets to the plant after being milked, or how soon it is pasteurized.  She had no information regarding the source of the milk, how long after it is milked it arrives at the plant, nor how long after it is pasteurized does it arrive to the store.  The paper carton contains a  paraffin coating to prevent leakage, there no glue involved.

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Horizon Organic:  1-888-494-3020, www.horizondairy.com,  I spoke to David. They heat the milk to 161.6 degrees for 15 seconds for pasteurization (he called it “htst” which means high temperature short time.)   Vitamin D is added.  The milk comes from “family farms in the United States”, my Colorado Springs purchased milk would come from my state or surrounding states… “We’re not going to send milk from California to New York.”  The container is “paperboard lined with polyethylene which is a food grade plastic.”  The milk has a shelf life of 17 days from the date it’s pasteurized.  The milk has to arrive at the plant at a certain temperature (if it’s too hot it will be thrown out), usually it’s within the same day it was milked (but Dave was unable to verify this.)  (As a side note, he says ultrapasteurized temp is 280 for 2 seconds, 65 to 68 day shelf life.)

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Sinton’s: 719-633-3821, www.sintondairy.com, I spoke to Michael.  He says they heat the milk to 170 degrees for 3 seconds.  170 degrees kills a certain pathogen that he couldn’t remember the name of.  The milk has a 19 day shelf life.  They don’t process on weekends, but do take deliveries on weekends.  Milk received Sunday may not be processed until Tuesday (worst case scenario), but most likely on Monday.  Milk is received either the day it is milked or the day after it is milked.  At the expiration date, milk could be as old as 24 days old, according to my math.  Vitamin D is added to the whole milk, nothing else.  All milk comes from Colorado via the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative.

And, now on to the exciting stuff…

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I boiled a couple of inches of water in each of my four stainless steel cheesemaking pots to ensure they were sterilized.

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Then set up the project.

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Next I poured the entire half-gallon of each milk into its corresponding pot.

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I dissolved 3/4 tsp citric acid into 1/4 cup non-chlorinated water (per milk pot) and gently stirred it into each pot of milk for 20 seconds.

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Next I heated each milk to 98-99 degrees then slowly stirred (into each batch) 1/8 teaspoon vegetarian Mad Millie brand rennet that had been dissolved into 1/4 cup non-chlorinated water.

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It rested for 5 minutes, then I cut the curd into 1/2 inch squares.  Here is Pot #1, Meadow Gold.

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Pot #2, King Soopers.  (Not cut yet, just testing the curd.)

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Pot #3, Horizon Organic.

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Pot #4, Sinton’s.

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I let the curds heal for 3 minutes, drained them of whey and formed them into “snowballs.”  In the case of #1 and #2, snowballs would not form.  The curd would not hold together.

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Next, I cut the curd into 1/2 inch pieces, poured hot sea-salted water over them and stretched…or attempted to.  Pot #1, Meadowgold, is above.  That is definite NON-stretch.

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Pot #2, King Soopers.

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Pot #3, Horizon Organic.

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Pot #4, Sinton’s.  Best Stretch.

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Throughout the study, I checked the acidity at various points as indicated on the paper in front of each milk.  If you are ready to delve into acidity in cheese making, zoom in on those numbers.  Otherwise, forget about them.

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And here are the results!  Sinton’s won first place, Horizon Organic was second, King Sooper’s third and Meadow Gold fourth.

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Here are some of my observations:

1.  None of the cheeses tasted as good as raw goat mozzarella, or what I imagine raw cow mozzarella would taste like.  Overall, they tasted more like velveeta cheese.  (Yuck.)  There was no complexity of flavor and they tasted like I should have just peeled celophane off of them.  When I put #2, #3 and #4 on burritos, they didn’t really melt, just turned into something more like paste.

2.  Michael at Sinton’s Dairy was the closest to the operation…he didn’t have to use a computer to access his knowledge, he just knew it, he works at the plant and has specific knowledge about what goes on there.  Sinton’s was the only plant I spoke to directly.

3.  Horizon Organic, Meadow Gold and King Soopers all had call center people I spoke to, who accessed their information from a computer.  The Meadow Gold and King Soopers people I spoke to weren’t even in the same state as the processing plant from whence my milk came.

4.  The only milk I was assured to have come from my own state (Colorado) was Sinton’s.

5.  King Soopers and Horizon Organic have different (WAY different) definitions of ultra pasteurized, according to their call center representatives.

6.  How can milk processing have any propietary information?  Heat it up, cool it down and package it, right?

7.  My hypothesis that the higher the heat in pasteurization would produce worse mozzarella was wrong.  Sinton’s is pasteurized at 170 and Meadow Gold at 162.

NOW, after slogging through this experiment with me, since it doesn’t seem to have to do with pasteurization, do you have any observations that might help us solve the question of Mozzarella, mozzarella, why dost thou fail me?

I look forward to reading your replies…and until I can figure out how allow you to comment right below this post, you’ll have to go to the right side bar and click on this post there.  That will open it up with the ability to comment at the bottom.  Thanks again for your help!

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

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About The Goat Cheese Lady

I am Lindsey. At first I was a city girl. Then I was an urban farmgirl, attempting to balance city and farm life. Now, after moving to the country, I have embarked on life as a rural farmgirl, complete with my husband, the Animal Whisperer, man of exceptional knowledge and patience, two boys who are louder than my sister and I ever were, a herd of milking goats, and a flock of egg-laying chickens. Coyotes, mice, country dogs and prairie dogs are frequent visitors. Just 45 minutes north is Colorado Springs, the setting for our first six years in the goat world. Our family. Our city friends. Our introduction to cheesemaking. But we...and our growing farm and soon-to-be creamery...have set up shop down off of Highway 115 in Penrose, Colorado.
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4 Responses to Mozzarella, mozzarella, why dost thou fail me? Part 2

  1. Owen says:

    Maybe you ought to try a double boiler setup instead of the pot on the direct heat

  2. Melina Bush says:

    I doubt I’ll ever make mozerella (only time was at your class), but it certainly is interesting research. I would have thought there would be an industry standard for pasteurization, whether we like it or not. Just one more reason to keep goats and make it with raw. Heck, I may have to build a goat barn and get one again. Maybe Sherman can do the milking!
    Thanks for doing the hard work for us.

  3. Karen says:

    I think that the food that the cows eats makes a difference in the quality of the fat in the cheese. According to WAP – cows that eat grass or hay vs. soy and grain produce different quality milk, which may result in different ratios of fats. When I went to the grocery store this weekend, I could only find ultra-pasteurized milk to buy. Plus the homogenization process (perhaps some differences in the processes here from dairy to dairy), after the fat has been removed, and added back in in standard amounts, damages the fat and cholesterol particles (under great pressure) so that they are more susceptible to rancidity and oxidation.

  4. Susan says:

    Do the cows eat different food? Grain vs grass?

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