Cheesemaking 101 - Ricotta
Cheesemaking, this could quickly turn into an obsession.
So far, I've had great success with homemade ricotta and mascarpone cheese. Next, I plan to try my hand at mozzarella and burrata. It won't be long before I start some serious experimentation with different milks and infusions, I'll be sure and keep you posted on my progress.
You don't need any of special tools or ingredients to make your own ricotta, so it's a good place to start.
Equipment: a large pot, a slotted spoon, a fine meshed sieve or a colander lined with two layers of cheesecloth, and a thermometer.
- 8 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon citric acid*
- 1/4 cup distilled water
*Citric Acid is sold in most grocery stores in the spice aisle, it is used in canning and preserving.
It is important to thoroughly clean and sterilize all of your tools and work surfaces before you start. I rinse all of my equipment (spoon, sieve, cheesecloth, thermometer, and bowls) in boiling water and wipe down my work surface with an all purpose kitchen cleaner before I start to make cheese.
Dissolve citric acid in the distilled water in a small bowl.
Add salt to the milk, and heat slowly in a big pot until the mixture reaches 205F. Stir the pot frequently, don't let it come to a full boil.
Remove from heat and stir in citric acid and water. The mixture should immediately curdle. Let it cool for 30 minutes or so, before you spoon the curds into a fine meshed sieve or small colander lined with cheesecloth to drain over a large bowl.
That's it, you are left with about 2 cups of ricotta cheese and about 6 cups of whey.
What to do with all this whey? I'm freezing it in smaller portions for use in baking and cooking. For more ideas, click here.
I made some simple spring tartine with my fresh ricotta as a little snack. Just smear some of your fresh ricotta on to toasted slices of baguette, add a few slivers of peppery radish, a couple of delicate pea shoots, and a few snips of chives fresh from the garden. Finish with a pinch of sea salt.
Couldn't be simpler, but I can't begin to describe how satisfying it was to munch on my own homemade cheese with the springs first harvest from the herb garden.
I really hope you try this simple technique for homemade ricotta, once you've made your own, you'll never look back.