CHEESE: RICOTTA

My favorite farmer avocado shopping in New Zealand

I’m going to visit my favorite farmer this weekend.  He and his wonderful wife are just back from 3 months of gallivanting around New Zealand.  He sent me a message a few days ago asking if I were ever going to teach a cheese-making class locally, and I responded that I was mulling over just that.  In fact, his farm might be just the place to do it on a summer evening.  You know, fresh cheese, good bread, outstanding vegetables . . . sounds heavenly to me.

I’m going to take him some ricotta with fresh herbs.  It’s a great starter cheese because it is just so simple to make.  I thought I had everything I needed, but realized I needed to make a run to the store for buttermilk.  I went ahead and got a quart because I’m also going to make crème fraîche this weekend in my yogurt maker.

By far the best formula for ricotta I have used comes from Jennifer Perillo at food52:  Creamy Homemade Ricotta.  It just works.

CREAMY HOMEMADE RICOTTA by Jennifer Perillo

Makes 2 cups

4 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  1. Add the ingredients to a 4-quart [stainless steel] pot. Bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.
  2. Once the curds begin to separate from the whey (you’ll see little specks of white bob to the surface), stir gently and set heat to the lowest setting (see NOTE). Cook for 2 more minutes, then remove pot from heat and set on an unlit back burner for at least 30 minutes, and up to one hour. (this will help the curds further develop).
  3. Gently ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer (this helps produce a fluffier, creamier curd, than pouring it into the strainer). When all the curds have been spooned into the bowl, pull the cheesecloth up the sides to loosely cover the ricotta in the strainer. Let sit for 10 minutes to drain (this will yield a very moist ricotta. If using for a cake recipe, you may want to let it drain longer for a drier consistency).
  4. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  5. NOTE: After making one to two pots of ricotta for a year, I’ve learned it likes to be left alone to produce the highest yield, so resist the temptation to stir it frequently once the curds begin to separate from the whey. One stir is enough, and if you’re curious, you can dip the spoon in the pot once or twice to see how the curds are developing.
  6. MY NOTE:  Don’t deviate from Jennifer’s directions, especially Step 5.  DO resist the urge to stir the curds.  I’m going to let mine sit in the strainer lined with cheesecloth for a good hour, as I want the cheese to be more dry than creamy.  Mine is going to top a pizza Saturday night.  It just occurred to me that it would be fantastic in Lost Shoes Risotto, too.  The one I’m going to take to my favorite farmer I’ll shape into a ball and roll it in some chopped fresh herbs.
  7. By the way, keep the no-pun-intended whey that drains off and use it in place of water for a bread dough, or as Antonia James and sdebrango suggest in Comments, use it to make polenta.
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About thesolitarycook

I'm a chef, a cook, a teacher, a reader, a writer, a bike-rider, a dog- and cat-woman
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14 Responses to CHEESE: RICOTTA

  1. AntoniaJames says:

    Yes, this is the best ricotta, ever. I make it all the time. I’m going to make a batch this evening in fact. I eat a couple spoonfuls of it for dessert any evening that I have some in the house. The whey also makes the most heavenly polenta: http://tinyurl.com/RicottaWheyHerbedPolentaAJFOOD. ;o)

  2. panfusine says:

    reading this was like sinking ones teeth into a mushy romance novel.. Feeling weak in the knees just reading this. can’t imagine I’ll feel when I make this & scarf it down.. *SIGH*

  3. I made the ricotta and it is the best I have ever had. I love the story and think a cheese making class on his farm would be fantastic. The whey as AJ pointed out is the a welcome byproduct of this ricotta. I made polenta with it adds such flavor, almost indescribable. Great post and can’t wait for the pizza,

  4. I’m on a cheese making mission it seems this year, and plan to make some ricotta soon! But I wanted to mention that I enjoyed reading your friend’s email in the above photo. Years ago when my husband and I were dating and first contemplating moving in with each other, we went to New Zealand for a few weeks. One of the places we went to was the Bay of Islands your friend mentions. We sailed there for a week of beautiful scenery. I got a little seasick, though, and was just getting my sea legs when it was time to head for land. Story of my life. Loved NZ, and we’ve talked off and on about going there for a few months to dig our feet a little deeper into the country.

  5. Oh, I meant to mention that Panir is my next cheese to attempt. Wish me luck.

  6. ldpw says:

    Like I said, I really appreciate a great cheese-maker (if you would let me know the proper term for someone who makes cheese, I would be very grateful). Oh it would be amazing in the Lost Shoes Risotto! I also don’t ever use exclamation marks unless it’s absolutely necessary. So, that’s how good I really think it would be.

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