This past weekend I wanted to try to make my own cheese for the first time. I gathered the typical ingredients: milk, rennet, and citric acid and went to town. Making Riccotta and Mozzarella seemed to work out alright, so I decided to try a harder cheese; however, in order to do that I had to press the cheese so that it compressed into the proper form. It was difficult to determine how much weight to put on the curds to get them to form. Too little force and it gets mushy, too much and I felt like I would compress it into a singularity! Has anyone done this before that could offer some weighty advice?
How are you pressing the cheese? Are you using a cheese press? I have done some traditional cheese making and it does take a lot of force. Not quite to the point of creating an atomic reaction though. For something simple, look for a Dutch press. It is a lever based press that helps. A screw press can also work.
I think if it is too mushy, you can safely assume you need more weight. If it it compresses to nearly a singularity :), you just didn't make very much cheese.
If you slice the cheese into 1 inch slices, sprinkle it with salt and let it weep for 3 days at room temperature, the whey will be drawn out. Then cover it with brine and refrigerate. A press is not necessary.