making fresh ricotta
The following recipe is the one I go back to, when I want to prepare a delicious and creamy Ricotta. The more liquid that you allow to drain, the firmer the cheese. The more liquid that you allow to remain---well, you know the answer!-------CREAMY!
1 quart whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Have ready a strainer lined with dampened cheesecloth and set in a bowl that’s deep enough so the strainer doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
Pour milk and cream into a 4 qt. saucepan. Add the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
When the milk is simmering, turn off the heat and pour in the vinegar. Leave alone for about 1 minute. Then start to stir slowly and gently. The milk will start separating into curds and whey (milky liquid); you are looking for the whey to become clearish, which will take about 1 minute of stirring. Once this happens, pour the mixture into the strainer. Lift the strainer out of the bowl and pour out the whey. Set the strainer back in the bowl and let the cheese drain for 15 minutes (or longer if you want a denser cheese). The ricotta is ready to serve now, but you can also refrigerate it, covered, for up to 5 days.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
I've made ricotta three times now and have had a very good result: Use a gallon of whole milk; heat to 180-185 degrees; take off heat; add 1/4 C white vinegar and stir once, gently; cover pot and let sit for one or two hours; skim curds into a strainer or collander lined with cheesecloth; allow to drain one or two hours. Put curds into a plastic or glass bowl and test for creaminess. If too dry, add whole milk a tablespoon at a time until you are satisfied with the consistency. Refrigerate. Enjoy! PS The yield isn't great, about a pound. If you use reduced fat milk the yield is even smaller.
I will try your recipe too, mnosyne - my problem is the curds are so hard by the time it has curdled, that letting it sit and draining doesn't seem to have any effect - one minute it's milk in a pot and the next it's curds with milky whey and melted butter. Your recipe is very specific about the temperature, but I read the epicurious recipe farmersdaughter posted below, and it less specifically says slowly bring it to a rolling bowl. Is the trick the temperature, or adding the acid after taking it off the heat?
Could you be draining it too much? If you want to go from fresh ricotta to ricotta salata, you keep draining, add salt and then press more whey from the cheese to make it harder and drier. If you're just draining without pressing into a block, you're just getting dry cheese curds.
Do you have Paula Lambert's book The Cheese Lover's Cookbook & Guide. Good reference book.