Now it is time to begin drying out the curds. This is sometimes done by heating the curd as well as stirring but for this moister early aging cheese we will not heat above our original temperature. The curds should be quickly brought back to the original 88F if they have cooled at all. The stirring is simply a gentle lifting of the curds bottom to top so that all of the curds are floating individually and all surfaces are exposed to the whey. This will aid in the expulsion of whey and the curds slowly lose some moisture.
The total stirring time will be about 35-45 minutes but may be extended by another 10-15minutes if the curds are still soft.
The photos above show the change in curd appearance during the stirring phase.
I find that it normally takes about 60 minutes from the beginning of the curd cut until the curds are ready to be drained and place in the form.
The final curds should be cooked well through and should be examined to make sure that enough moisture has been removed. A broken curd should be firm throughout and the curds should have a moderate resistance when pressed between the fingers. These will definitely be moister and softer than those for cheddar
The The second set of photos above, shows a simple test for dryness. Take a small handful of curds and press firmly in your hand. After being squeezed, the curds should easily seperate with a bit of thumb pressure.
If the curd does not consolidate well, then likely it is too dry (make larger cuts and stir for less time next in your next batch).
The photo above shows the curds after being squeezed and then seperating form a light press with the thumb, this is ideal. If they do not separate easily, they are likely too moist and need a bit more stirring.
When the curds are done let them settle under the whey.