Sunday, August 10, 2008

Homemade Ricotta

Making homemade ricotta, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

As you know I've been having trouble getting a sourdough starter to start. It's been depressing. So, I decided to leave breads behind for a bit and try my hand at another farmhouse staple - homemade cheese.

The latest issue of Saveur has an article on making ricotta. It sounded amazingly simple. Then, I read this bit in the NY Times which made it sound even easier. I also got some encouragement from Veronica Baetje, of Baetje Farms, who gave me some pointers and a good tip I'll pass on in the next recipe, with thanks. After my *weeks* of failure (sob) with sourdough, the prospect of making something traditional, yet cool, in about an hour sounded like just the thing to bring back my countrypolitan mojo. So I gave it a go.

OMG (as the kids say)! Not only was the ricotta easy to make, but it tasted so incredible - really creamy and fresh. I had folks over for dinner last night and served the cheese as part of an antipasto platter. I think they were suitably impressed and we came up with some suggestions for how to flavor & season the next batches. I can't wait!

1 qt whole milk
1 cup buttermilk
1/8 cup heavy cream

Heat milks and cream in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to keep the milk from scorching. Use a candy or instant-read thermometer to heat to 180 degrees. Stir gently as the curds start forming around 175 degrees. Once the mixture reaches 180 degrees use a fine mesh sieve to scoop out the curds. Drop into a ricotta mold or colander lined with cheesecloth. Let drain for a couple of minutes, then gather the edges of the cheesecloth and twist together. Hang over a bowl to let the remaining whey drip from the cheese, about 1 hour. Gently remove the cheese from the cloth and serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe adapted from NY Times & “Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking” (Chronicle, 2002).

Chris Freeland
cfreeland27 (at)


rgrace said...

I had a problem for years getting a sourdough starter to start. My last attempt was a success. Most of the starter instructions say to feed the starter only after it has started bubbling. I tried a different technique this last time. I started with a teaspoon of flour and a teaspoon of water. Then 8 hours later I added another teaspoon of water and flour. 8 hours after that I added 2 teaspoons of both. Every 8 hours double the amount. When you get too much in the container dump it all. Scrape what little is left on the sides into a lump in the middle and start the process over again. In a weeks time you should have a sourdough. It may not look like sourdough but if you leave it out for 24 hours it will develop that sourdough smell. I kept feeding my starter like this for 2 weeks. Then I used it in a bread recipe. It had a really good flavor but not much rise. Each loaf I made had a better rise. Here is how I maintain the starter. I take it out of the fridge. Give it a good stir. Feed it. Let it sit overnight. Then use whatever amount is required by the bread. Again I dump all that is left. And use what little is sticking to the sides of the container for my new start. I mix it with half a cup of flour and half a cup of water. I let it sit out for 30 minutes to an hour, then back in the fridge.

rgrace said...

I forgot to mention, my sourdough has been going strong for almost three months. It has an excellent rise and a wonderful taste. Every time I use it it gets a more complex and better taste and a better rise.