Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cheesepalooza, month 1: whole milk ricotta

I have the privilege of being a part of a very cool project this year: Cheesepalooza. Organized by some fabulous food bloggers and modeled after last year's Charcutepalooza, Cheesepalooza works its way through Mary Carlin's Artisan Cheesemaking at Home, setting one cheesemaking challenge a month. This month (month one) was relatively simple: whole milk ricotta.

I should mention that I have made ricotta before, as a byproduct of making mozzarella (a slightly different process than the recipe I used here - I had made whey ricotta, which uses the leftover whey from another cheesemaking project. This recipe simply curdles milk with acid).  It was delicious.

Sadly, though, this time was kind of a flop. I combined the required ingredients - milk, cream, citric acid, salt - in a pot and heated it to 185 degrees fahrenheit, at which point there should be discernible curds and yellowy whey. Sadly, though, while a few curds formed, I never got the curdling transformation I expected. I kept heating the mixture, hoping that maybe my thermometer just wasn't correct, but when I saw simmering bubbles I finally gave up. I strained the few curds through cheesecloth, and I got about a quarter of a cup of (admittedly, very delicious, very expensive) ricotta. So expensive that I don't even want to know about the cost comparison of homemade versus store bought.

Now, if you know me in person, you know that I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Therefore, I'll be trying this recipe again. However - I am terribly disappointed, having heard very positive things about Carlin's book. Oh well. On to better things, Cheesepalooza!


  1. Oh, dear!
    I had failures, too - but fortunately after my initial successes when I tried various techniques. I hope you saved the whey and still used it in soup and bread or in baking - or even drank it. Did you taste it? It is actually very good when coming from the fresh milk ricotta - which makes a failure then not so expensive, and more of a learning experience. Please try it again - but do read... I did have trouble with the citric acid, and there is a point within the 10 degree mark where you can add a bit more - I would go up to 1/2 t more if there are not enough curds forming... and do go slow with the heat.
    ALso - please e-mail me the information I need to include this post in the round up! I haven't go that from you, yet!

  2. I hope it works out for you next time! Ours curdled very slowly and the whey was cloudier than most peoples, but we still got a pretty big yield. Can't wait to make another batch!