Looking for ricotta making pointers
I'm looking for pointers on making ricotta.
I've made it previously with Ina Garten's Recipe, which uses a blend of whole milk and cream. I felt like it was fattier than ricotta that I've bought. I recently heard that it's traditional to use something much less fatty, like 1 or 2% milk. Have others had good luck with leaner ricotta? Suggestions on fat content?
Also, Garten's recipe calls for white wine or sherry vinegar. I've since heard that fresh lemon juice is better. Again, have people had luck with this? Suggestion on acid type?
Right now, I'm planning on using 2% milk and lemon juice, but it's for quite an important occasion and I wanted to get some more opinions first.
I've done it with skim and 2% and both have turned out great. I've found that you get a higher yield with vinegar than any other acid. The acidity in lemon juice varies from lemon to lemon so you will not get consistent results with them.
I like to make my ricotta with whole milk, then drain it until it's a little drier than I want it, then stir in a little heavy cream to get the right consistency. I have made it with cream added to the milk before, but I felt like that gave the ricotta a weirdly pasty texture. Adding the cream later allows you to control the texture better. You can also use half and half if the cream is too rich for your taste.
As for acidifiers, I use either vinegar (white or cider) or citric acid with consistently good results. I used an old bottle of vinegar once and had trouble getting the curds to form, but I just added more vinegar and eventually everything worked. The vinegar stays in the whey, so adding more than called for won't affect the flavor of your cheese.
I find that the temperature can affect the texture of the cheese quite drastically - I let mine boil once and it was rubbery as hell. Be gentle with the heat and watch your thermometer and you'll have better results.
I much prefer whole milk to any other for ricotta. be careful not to let the heat go over 190. Stop draining when it is a little softer than you wish. I like vinegar ( or citric acid) as lemons are variably acidic. If it is for an important occasion do a test run, or make it a day ahead so you can redo if necessary.
I do mine with whole milk and lemon juice. I've never had a problem. I agree with temp, I bring my milk to 180, turn the heat off, add the acid, and let sit for 20 minutes or so (I don't really time it).
If you don't like the whole milk then by all means try it with something else (I have never had an issue and haven't tried 1%) but don't go off "traditionally" as USA milk isn't even quite the same as "traditional milk". I do usually seek out high quality pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) when I make ricotta. I think the flavor is better.
Let us know how it goes!