home-made ricotta

November 6th, 2011 § 11

Here’s a post for those curious readers who have asked – where are the recipes that didn’t work out? We’ve been curious about home-made Ricotta since tasting some a year ago at a Sunday Suppers event, and being told how simple and quick it is to make. After looking at a few recipes, we tried one from a brand-new, red-hot cookbook whose title and author shall remain nameless. The recipe as written did not work.

butternut_squash_tart

Ricotta on toast with olive oil, dried thyme and Maldon salt.

We sourced some really great milk for this attempt, and Rob was quite inspired by the idea of an all-white visual concept, which as you can see worked really well. The recipe promised that the combination of milk and buttermilk would form thick creamy curds once it reached 170°F, and as we watched the temperature soar past 180, 190, we realized something was wrong. Maybe we had the wrong kind of buttermilk? Or we’re stirring it too much?

butternut_squash_tart

A recipe with two ingredients: whole milk and buttermilk. When heated, the acid in the buttermilk causes the curds and whey to separate.

We stuck to our guns and decided to just see what would happen if we kept heating the mixture. Finally at around 210°F, the curds appeared, and we strained them out. Unfortunately, they had turned to rubber, which I guess is a result of such a high temperature.

butternut_squash_tart

Of course we’ll be trying this again. It seems like many people use a combination of milk, cream, and either lemon juice or citric acid. Have you ever made Ricotta at home? What technique did you use?

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§ 11 Responses to “home-made ricotta”

  • Rob says:

    David is exaggerating. The cheese we produced at the higher than suggested heat was more firm that what you usually think of as a soft ricotta. But on toast with good olive oil, dried thyme, and Maldon salt it was actually quite tasty.

  • Hugh says:

    It sounds like the milk you used was super pasturized (most, if not all commercial milk in quebec is super pasturized) and this makes cheese making impossible. unpasturized milk and rennet with a dash of citric acid will do the trick and you can then skip the buttermilk…… rennet is pretty easy to find in quebec, unpasturized milk however is another story… I have a contact if you want……

  • It will definitely work (and taste) better with raw milk, straight from the farm! Of course real ricotta is actually made from whey, and ideally from sheep’s milk. For a richer—and more reliable—version, try smitten kitchen’s: http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/06/rich-homemade-ricotta/
    Of course I’m *dying* to know whose cookbook you were using…

  • Rob says:

    Names have been omitted to protect the identity of those involved. ;-)

  • Elisa says:

    I have made Ina Garten’s fresh ricotta recipe a couple times and it turns out perfectly every time: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-ricotta-recipe/index.html

  • Kay says:

    A friend of mine actually just made me homemade ricotta with heavy whipping cream, buttermilk, and whole milk…her recipe was from her grandmother (they’re an extremely Italian family) and it was incredibly delicious

  • jennie says:

    i made the smitten kitchen version, and had the same results you did…no curdling. it was the first time i’ve ever made something from deb that didn’t turn out. can’t wait to hear when you discover the trick we’ve been missing.

  • Rob says:

    This is certainly a case where you need to try a few test runs in order for it to be just right. I’ve noticed that the texture can varry enormously depending on the heat and time given for the curds to separate.

  • Patricia Ann says:

    I remember trying the ricotta with whole milk as the only main ingredient but the the ricotta was too dry for my liking in the end. I ended up using heavy cream in the next batch.

    If you’re having trouble with the curdling of the milk, my suggestion would be to take off the milk from the heat when it reaches 175, add the lemon juice, stir the mixture a couple of times and leave the pot undisturbed for five minutes or so straining it. That should help do the trick in creating the curdles.

    Hope that helps!

  • Danielle says:

    You won’t name names and spare us the mistake of buying the same cookbook?

  • David says:

    Danielle, the book in question is full of other recipes we’ve tried and loved, so no reason to raise any red flags. Your comment has made me ask myself if there’s any cook book on my shelf that I can say is 100% infallible, and I don’t think there is. In general, though, I’d say the books written by chefs are more reliable and useful than books that are collections of recipes from magazines, or put together by food stylists. There’s nothing more disappointing than trying a recipe that looks picture perfect, but lacks flavour or focus. Do you have a favourite cook book? At the moment I think mine is Fat by Jennifer McLagan – we’ve cooked probably 15 of her recipes. For general reference I often turn to the Cooks Illustrated publications because I love how they navigate you through things. They probably would have helped us figure out this ricotta…

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