Reprinted with permission from Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses by Mary Karlin, copyright (c) 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Makes 1 pound
Milks Pasteurized or raw whole cow’s milk, heavy cream
Alternative Milk Pasteurized or raw goat’s milk
Start to Finish About 1½ hours: 1 hour to make the cheese; 20 to 30 minutes to drain
- 1 gallon pasteurized or raw whole cow’s milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon citric acid powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal brand)
1. Read through the recipe and review any terms and techniques you aren’t familiar with (see chapter 1). Assemble your equipment, supplies, and ingredients, including a dairy or kitchen thermometer; clean and sterilize your equipment as needed and lay it out on clean kitchen towels.
2. In a nonreactive, heavy 4-quart stockpot, combine the milk, cream, citric acid, and 1 teaspoon of the salt and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Place over medium-low heat and slowly heat the milk to 185°F to 195°F. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula to prevent scorching.
3. As the milk reaches the desired temperature, you will see the curds start to form. When the curds and whey separate and the whey is yellowish green and just slightly cloudy, remove from the heat. Gently run a thin rubber spatula around the edge of the curds to rotate the mass. Cover the pan and let the curds set without disturbing for 10 minutes.
4. Place a nonreactive strainer over a nonreactive bowl or bucket large enough to capture the whey. Line it with clean, damp butter muslin and gently ladle the curds into it. Use a long-handled mesh skimmer to capture the last of the curds. If any curds are stuck to the bottom of the pan, leave them there. You don’t want scorched curds flavoring your cheese.
5. Distribute the remaining 1 teaspoon salt over the curds and gently toss the curds with your hands to incorporate. Be careful not to break up the curds in the process.
6. Make a draining sack: Tie two opposite corners of the butter muslin into a knot and repeat with the other two corners. Slip a dowel or wooden spoon under the knots to suspend the bag over the whey-catching receptacle, or suspend it over the kitchen sink using kitchen twine tied around the faucet. Let the curds drain for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the desired consistency has been reached. If you like moist ricotta, stop draining just as the whey stops dripping. If you like it drier or are using it to make ricotta salata, let the curds drain for a longer period of time. Discard the whey or keep it for another use.
7. Transfer the cheese to a lidded container. Cover and store, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
To make goat ricotta, substitute goat’s milk and use 1½ teaspoons of citric acid, adding an additional ½ teaspoon of citric acid if needed to cause coagulation. The curds will be softer and more delicate than the cow’s milk curds and the whey will be slightly cloudy.
To make smoky ricotta affumicata, place the curds in a plastic Italian draining basket lined with butter muslin or cheesecloth and let drain on a rack for 24 hours (see page 20). Remove the cheese from the cloth, then dry salt it with 2 teaspoons sea salt (see page 23), wrap it in a dry cheesecloth sack, and cold smoke it in a cool wood-fired oven or smoker for 3 days (see page 27). Remove the cheese from the smoker and allow to air-dry for at least 1 week and up to 1 month. Use it right away, or vacuum-seal and refrigerate for up to 1 month.