Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making Homemade Ricotta

Making Ricotta
Ricotta is the first cheese I heard about making at home... well before any cheese making course... and I've known it's easy, fun, and basically foolproof for just as long. But we still had never gotten around to making it until this weekend. The recipe is as simple as can be: whole milk (plus maybe some cream) and acid that's all brought up to about 190-195 degrees Fahrenheit to precipitate out the cheese (full recipe here). After a few minutes sitting you just drain it from anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours based on your desired consistency.

Two things to keep in mind:  1) you definitely don't want it to boil: it will taste cooked and weird  2) if nothing is happening as you get close to 170 degrees F add more acid until it does (see the recipe). We fell afoul of the second one, but it's truly easily fixed... the curds will separate just like magic when you get the pH and temperature right. We drained ours for about two hours, looking for a denser and creamier product, and it came out looking like this:

Ricotta Drained
As an aside it's pretty hard taking pictures of white things in poor lighting. So the only thing you really need to buy for this is the acid... for the most precise control you'll want citric acid, but there are also recipes out there just using the acid in buttermilk or lemon juice.

So really, not a lot holding anybody back from trying this... definitely a lot of fun (has a bit of a chemistry experiment feel) and the end product was absolutely delicious. Definitely recommended.