Here's my situation:
Every week I get some lovely raw jersey milk. Sometimes at the end of the week I have some leftover, so I've been experimenting with making either ricotta or yogurt with it. I should note the milk is *not* soured yet. I always taste test to make sure I would still drink it if I'm going to use it this way (I know other uses if it is sour).
One weird thing that is happening is the milk is separating into curds well before it gets to 180ish and before I add any acid. Is this ok and should I just proceed or am I going to end up with a lumpy mess? Today I was heating up just a little for my toddler to drink and it separated before it was even warmish! It hasn't always done that, but has been lately. If it does that, should I just stop heating it and strain it right then?
The other thing that has happened the last couple of times is my ricotta curds were very tough. I have made it before and had it turn out nice and creamy, so I know this isn't how it should be. I am careful not to over stir it, esp after adding acid. Could this be related to it being "old" milk or am I doing something else wrong? I am really craving that creamy ricotta I've had in the past.
Does anyone have ideas for me? I'd appreciate it. I have an unopened gallon right now that I want to use up and I don't want to 'ruin' it!
Yes, your milk is old (or unclean). It doesn't have to taste or smell sour to be too old for cheesemaking/yogurt.
If the milk curdles or separates when you warm it, this means that it is overly acidic, on its way to souring.
Good raw milk should not sour in less than a week. You might want to tell the farm, especially if it's a recent problem. It could be due to improper chilling or poor sanitation.
When I make cheese or yogurt, I try to use the freshest milk possible. Older milk is for drinking or cooking.