August 11, 2014

Ricotta Cheese


August is National Goat Cheese Month. As a way to participate, I challenged myself to make a different kind of cheese from goat milk every week - some that I've made before and some that are new to me. The kind folks at Hoegger Supply Company, my favorite place to buy goat supplies, said that sounded like fun! They have provided the cheese cultures and other supplies I'll be using. My many thanks go out to them.

My Nubian goats - Phoenix, Ziva, Firefly, and Felicity - are providing the milk I'm using to make the cheeses.


This week I made ricotta cheese. I've been making this for several years, but I've always been disappointed by the small yield. I was making whey ricotta, which means it was made using fresh whey left from making another cheese first. In essence, it was free cheese, made from leftovers. The small yield isn't really a surprise, since the original milk has already been used to make cheese and a lot of the milk solids are already gone.

Then I found a recipe for whole milk ricotta in a book entitled Cheese Making at Home and decided to change my ways. This recipe calls for:
1 gallon cold milk - I used raw whole goat milk
1 tsp citric acid
1 tsp cheese salt

I mixed all of the ingredients in the pot, and attached my thermometer to the side, making sure it didn't touch the bottom of the pot. My "big" pot only holds one gallon. I hoped the milk wouldn't go over the edge for some reason, but fortunately it didn't.


Over medium heat, I warmed the milk to 195°F. The directions said to stir occasionally so it wouldn't scorch, but that if it was stirred too much the curds would be too fine. I'm the kind of gal that likes to stir so this was hard for me, not knowing the fine point between "enough" and "too much".


Almost there...


It took awhile, but finally the thermometer reached 195°. The directions said I'd be able to see the separation between curds and whey, and sure enough, I could! I carefully moved the pot off the burner to set for the required five minutes. Goat curds are fragile, so you have to be gentle. That explains the "don't overstir" direction above.


After five minutes it looked very promising, much better than the whey ricotta I'd been making.


I put a colander in my largest bowl in the sink, and lined it with cheesecloth. I used a measuring cup to scoop up the curds and gently transfer them to the colander.


A better view of the curds and whey, after I'd scooped some out.


Curds in the cheesecloth-lined colander.

After the cheese drained a bit in the colander, I gathered the corners of the cheesecloth and used a rubberband to close it up into a bag. I put my spoon handle through the rubberband and rested the spoon on top of a pitcher. The cheese hung in the pitcher and I let it drain for about an hour. The longer you let it drain, the drier your cheese will be.


What beautiful cheese! From that one gallon of milk I made close to two pounds - TWO POUNDS - of ricotta cheese and had almost 3 quarts of whey left over. I used some of the whey to make bread, and I've found that the dogs and cats love the excess whey, so none goes to waste.


I'll be using this recipe for whole milk ricotta from now on, instead of the whey ricotta I used to make. The cheese has a great texture and makes a good amount from a gallon of milk. It was easy to make, and the lasagna I made for dinner with it was delicious. Need cheese? Make some!





National Goat Cheese Month
Week One - Lemon Cheese
Week Two - Ricotta - this post
Week Three - Mozzarella
Week Four - Chèvre




DISCLOSURE: The cheese cultures and supplies I'm using were supplied by 


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.

~~~~~

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13 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:20 AM

    Wow, your instructions are so clear. The process seems doable even for me. I love that you were able to get 2 pounds of cheese out of a gallon of milk and that the left-over whey is also usable.

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  2. When I clicked through to Hoegger to check on cheese-making supplies, I noticed that they also have essential oils. It is good to have a new source for them.

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  3. Thank you, my anonymous reader. :-) The cheese was quite simple to make and wow, very productive (in other words, worth the time to make it!)

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  4. Debbie, thank you for pointing that out. They do carry a variety of items.

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  5. That looks delicious! I would love to try making some different cheeses. So far I have only made farmer's cheese.

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  6. This isn't any harder than farmer's cheese, Heidi. You can do it.

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  7. Your ricotta looks delicious! After reading your excellent instructions with pictures, I am thinking of trying to make some ricotta. The way you explained and showed everything was the best ricotta making recipe that I have seen. I do not have easy access to goat milk. Would the recipe and instructions be exactly the same if I used cow's milk?

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  8. Hello Susie. Yes, you would use the same directions if using cows milk. Have fun!

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  9. You're welcome, Susie. I hope if you try making this, that you will let me know how it turns out!

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  10. Thanks for sharing these goat cheese recipes on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! I am going to try every one of them on our Saanen and Nubian milkers :) Your tutorial is excellent!

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  11. How fun to do a different cheese each week. The ricotta looks great. Thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday.

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