Friday, March 9, 2012

Everyday Yumminess: Perfect Ricotta Revisited

In all the chaos of preparing to move and then moving, it had been quite a while since I'd made a batch of ricotta. In the meantime, a comment appeared on my last post about ricotta from a brilliant woman named Lynn suggesting an improved technique that has all the convenience of the sous vide method but doesn't involve any consumables (bags, cheesecloth, etc...).
I tried this technique for yogurt-making a couple weeks ago and it was fantastic, then today I finally got around to making a batch of ricotta with this new method and it's super-cool. Thus, I thought I'd better share the new method as its own post so that even people who don't read the comments on the older post can learn about it. The recipe is the same as I posted previously (modified from Ideas in Food): 1/2 gallon whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, a generous teaspoon of sea salt, and whatever amount of citric acid you need to get curd formation after the milk is heated. The citric acid quantity will vary with the source of your milk. My awesome milk from Crescent Ridge Dairy that the milk man used to bring me in Waltham needed 3/4 to 1 teaspoon per half-gallon batch, while the milk I used in this batch (from the local grocery store) required twice that. (I started out with 3/4 teaspoon, heated the milk, and then increased the citric acid once I saw that curds hadn't formed, adding enough to get good curd formation.) The ingredients all go into a bowl that fits in your sous vide water bath (which you have pre-heated to 195°F):
After 35-40 minutes, you should have some nice curds. If not, as mentioned above, you may need to crank up your citric acid concentration a bit.
Once you have the nice curds, gently ladle them from the top of the whey using a slotted spoon and gently place them in your straining vessel. You can strain your cheese just using cheesecloth/muslin laid out in a strainer, but I like to use these ricotta baskets because I like not having to mess with cleaning cheesecloth.
The batch pictured here was a double batch (using a full gallon of milk).
I set my ricotta molds in a strainer over a dish so that the whey that drained off had a place to go.
Strain the ricotta for however long you like, longer for a dryer cheese, shorter for a softer cheese...
A half gallon of milk (along with the other ingredients) yields around a pound of heavenly fresh ricotta.
I love this new procedure. It's so easy, and I love not having to waste vacuum bags every time I make ricotta or yogurt. (FYI: For yogurt, I follow the same recipe that I posted about here, except instead of a double-boiler I use this bowl-in-the-water-bath technique with the water bath pre-heated to 185 °F. After 35 minutes or so, I cool the milk mixture down to 115°F, whisk in my culture/yogurt, and let the yogurt hang out at 110°F for 8 to 10 hours until perfection is achieved.) Couldn't be easier...

4 comments:

TFHZone said...

Did you cook it with the top on the sous vide?

emmo said...

I did, just to keep the extra heat in and cut back on evaporation. =)

Todd in Chicago said...

Emily, how long will this keep in the fridge? I made it but it took a loooooooong time for curds to appear. Can't wait to try it today.

emmo said...

In my experience a batch of fresh ricotta lasts at most a week in the fridge, but I try to go through it faster...

If you don't have curd formation pretty soon after the milk is has come up to temperature, it may help to add a bit more citric acid.

Good luck! =)