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I made my first attempt at cheesemaking this past weekend, this cheese specifically, and it didn't work out - I got curds separated from the whey fine, but they never became stretchy.

I'm curious whether the issue was that I attempted to scale the recipe. I didn't want to make the full batch the first time - mostly because 2 gallons of milk would have filled my 8 quart pan, the largest I have - and so cut things in half, like I would for a bread or similar.

Is this possible in cheesemaking? Or do scales work differently? It's very possible I had other issues - I don't think I scaled perfectly in a few places, and I may have allowed the temperature to vary a bit more than I should have - but I want to nail down this one first.

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  • Usually, the issue with pasta filata cheeses is the temperature at the stretching stage. Maybe you will get better advice if you provide an accurate description of your process after you created the curd.
    – moscafj
    Nov 2 '21 at 21:27
  • @moscafj I am not too worried about the specific issues - I'm sure a lot of it is just me being a novice and will be trying various different techniques - so I'm really focused just on, "can I scale the recipe" in this case. Thanks!!
    – Joe M
    Nov 2 '21 at 21:34
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    I don't think scaling is your issue. If you were able to create curds, the issues is in the stretching phase. So, short answer... the recipe should scale.
    – moscafj
    Nov 2 '21 at 22:25
  • +1 @Moscafj, spot on! Nov 3 '21 at 4:10
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Cheese recipes scale pretty linearly, at least until you get small enough that it's hard to measure out the rennet or culture accurately, or large enough that it's challenging to heat and cool the milk. I have, on occasion, made a 1 liter of milk batch when 6oz of cheese was all I needed.

Queso Oaxaca is a "mozzarella process" cheese, though, and getting the temperature and acidity right for good stretching is notoriously finicky. I've made mozzarella at least a dozen times and I still got a stretch failure on my last batch, for reasons I'm not completely sure of. If you weren't able to hold the temperature steady during stage 4, for example, the curd might not have become acidic, and would have stretched poorly.

So: your cheese failure is normal, and had little or nothing to do with changing the scale, unless you really did mismeasure.

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  • Incidentally: if you get into this, let me recommend buying Ricki Carroll's book, which has more detail than the online recipes do.
    – FuzzyChef
    Nov 3 '21 at 5:55
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    Out of curiosity does lacking stretchiness mean it's a total loss, or can you still make another kind of cheese with the curds?
    – GdD
    Nov 3 '21 at 8:58
  • That's good to hear - I definitely don't want to make 8L of milk->cheese, and that seems to be the common size. I'm going to use my sous vide for my next attempt, which hopefully will allow me to keep the temperature much more well controlled than my induction stove (which isn't bad, but it's not a super fancy one, so it was very tricky keeping it to one temp).
    – Joe M
    Nov 3 '21 at 18:42
  • @GdD you can still eat it, it'll just have inferior taste and texture.
    – FuzzyChef
    Nov 5 '21 at 21:52

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