How to Make Ricotta Cheese

| 9/18/2013 9:41:00 AM

About a year ago, I met a neighbor when she stopped for some fresh eggs. We chatted a bit, and before she left I had agreed to accept some of her overflow of raw goat milk to try my hand at cheesemaking. You know how things go in the country—we were soon fast friends. Maybe it was because I never turned her away when she did things like deliver a LOT more milk than I had said I could use.

raw goat milk
You're getting HOW much milk every day? Photo By Pier Jones

With so much milk to “play with,” I was able to try lots of recipes on a daily basis. Without a doubt, the easiest, most versatile cheese for a newbie is ricotta—you can use it for dessert, a main course, a side dish, a salad, and it freezes well. I was using raw goat milk, but because you're going to heat it anyway, store-bought pasteurized milk works fine, either goat or cow. Do not use ultra-pasteurized, as you'll never get a good curd, or so they tell me.

Ricotta needs no fancy additives—no cultures, no special acids—which makes it an even better choice for the new cheesemaker. No added expense while you try your hand and decide if cheesemaking is something you want to explore further.

Here's all you'll need:

• 1 gallon whole milk (trust, me the texture is better with whole milk)
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (have a little more on hand, as every batch can vary just a bit)
• pat of butter or drizzle of olive oil (optional)
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
• non-reactive pot that holds at least 6 quarts
• thermometer (for this recipe, a simple candy thermometer will do, but if you get really into making cheeses, you'll want a good digital thermometer)