Next it is time to begin drying out the curds. If your temperature has dropped, bring it back to 88°F.
Allow the curds to settle to the bottom of the pot briefly, then remove about 1/3 of the original milk volume (about 42 oz. for each gallon of mik) as whey.
This will functionally be removing some of the food supply (lactose) and slow the cultures ability to produce acid.
The next step will be to add the 140°F water slowly in stages over the next 30 minutes. The final temperature should be about 102°F.
Following this the curds should be stirred (gently) for another 30-45minutes for the curd to release more whey. Remember to increase the temperature of your water bath to keep the curds warm.
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.
When this point is reached the curds can be allowed to settle under the whey
The common test for dryness is to press a handful of curds in the hand to consolidate the mass and then pressing with the thumb see how easily they release or break apart. The drier curds break apart quite easily, the moister curds tend to adhere slightly but still do break apart readily.