Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Homemade ricotta

I never considered making my own cheese, after all, people focus their lives on cheese making and it is easy to buy wonderful cheeses. But then I saw how simple it is to make fresh ricotta. Donna Hay had a wonderful piece on ricotta in the October/November issue (my dish above left, her magazine page on the right) and I was very curious to see if a recipe that simple, for something I had previously thought was very complicated, would actually work. Believe-it-or-not, two ingredients later (milk and vinegar), and about 10 minutes total cooking time later, I had a soft and fluffy ricotta that was so fresh and satisfying I couldn’t believe I’d never tried it before! The only piece of specialty equipment required is a liquid thermometer. Otherwise, it is optimal to use a ricotta mold, but the recipe works perfectly well molded in any 1-cup capacity container provided you drain the ricotta well before loading it in and use care when un-molding. Ricotta molds are not the easiest things to find, and after realizing I would have to resort to mail order, I decided it wasn’t that important.

Ricotta (from Donna Hay)

6 cups full cream milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar

1. Place the milk and a candy thermometer in a saucepan over medium heat and heat to 176ºF. Remove from the heat, add the vinegar and allow to sit for 5 minutes or until curds form.
2. Line a colander with fine muslin and place over a deep bowl. Use a slotted soon to carefully spoon the curds into the colander. Allow to drain for 5 minutes.*
3. Spoon the ricotta into a glass or ceramic dish and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 1 ¼ cups.

*The reason the curds need to be carefully spooned is to ensure they hold their shape. Pouring the curds straight into the colander will result in the cheese becoming dry and grainy.

I followed the recipe for sweet honeyed ricotta, which includes a honey/vanilla bean drizzling syrup as follows:

Honey / vanilla syrup

1 cup water
1/3 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, scraped
brioche (or other bread) to serve
honeycomb to serve

Place the water, honey, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Strain and allow to cool. Turn ricotta out onto a plate, pour the honey syrup over it and serve wit the honeycomb and brioche.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know where that beautiful bread is from!

Sabra said...

Pain Quotidien!

Anonymous said...

SO funny, I was reading the article last night in bed and thought "Oh, I will try this". I am glad to hear it worked, so I am now even more impatient to try!

Sabra said...
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Sabra said...
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Sabra said...

Hi Bea
Let me know if you try it! One thing I might add is that you should start with good milk - I made it twice, once with stonybrook farm organic milk and the second time with ronnybrook farm creamline milk (from a small ny dairy) - the second time resulted in fluffier (and more) curds.

Kajal@aapplemint said...

Hi ...ricotta is a fairly easy cheese to make. Back in India we call it "Paneer" and it very commonly and widely used. I've tried making it many times at home when i need to use it for traditional indian recipe - mostly involves a lot of spices and vegetables. Its amazing how one simple cheese can be consumed in so many diff ways across the world.
Your Ricotta looks fantastic and your shot is at par with Donna hAY ...SO WELL DONE HONEY :)

Anonymous said...

Your ricotta photo looks super delicious
Using good milk makes it very nutritious
Your homemade apricot jam on top of the bread & cheese
Is certain for everyone to please!

Sabra said...

Kate / kajal:
Thanks for your comment. I LOVE palak paneer (hope I"m not misspelling) - but had no idea the cheese was ricotta - interesting. Thanks re: my shot :)
Would love your recipe if you are inclined to share!

Sabra said...
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Graeme said...

Hey there,

Yours looks WAY better than mine, but I made Ricotta last week. You can see my attempt on my Blog.

Great site!

Blood Sugar

GTO400 - Flickr

Katy said...

how funny... i clicked on your blog through a comment from another blog, but i had just been google-ing "how to make cheese" this morning! crazy coincidence. i'm definitely going to try this!

Anonymous said...

Yay - love crazy coincidences!

Unknown said...

hi sab! a long overdue comment. being somewhat gastronomically challenged, i lack insight into your ricotta, except to say that it looks molto delicioso. perhaps you should try ricotta salata next? love, your brother (in-law)

p.s. your photos make me hungry...

Helene said...

It's funny, the first time I saw a recipe for it I went "that's it?! Dang! Lemme try!!" and the rest is history...I never buy it premade anymore. I have tried with raw milk from the farmer's market and it was incredibly creamy tasting, wonderful! Glad to hear your experience was a good one too!

Sabra said...

What a great idea, tartelette! I hadn't thought of using raw milk - must try that next!

Anonymous said...

It seems from reading all the comments that the good, whole milk is important. My dad used to make his own cream cheese (at least that's what he called it-looked more like realy soft ricotta), but he made it with skim milk. I'm inclined to try saving calories always. Any clue if it'd work with skim milk? His sat in a plastic cup with holes in it for the water to run off in an outer pan as it was hardening. Got any ideas about that?? Sudy

Sabra said...

Gosh - I'm not sure. I know they sell lowfat ricotta so I'm sure it's possible but my guess is it would take more milk to get the same quantity of cheese but I really don't know - you can try it and see. I'd splurge on whole milk and just eat less! (it's good for you anyway - calcium, etc.) The "plastic cup" is a ricotta mold but you don't need one - just follow the recipe as written.

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