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Sep 5, 2012 10:22 AM

Source for fresh ricotta in Central Pennsylvania?

Can anyone direct me to a source for fresh ricotta in the central Susquehanna valley? I'm in Union County. We have lots of small dairies producing raw milk and making interesting cheeses, but I'm unable to find anyone who makes ricotta.

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  1. Since this is the home cooking board, may I suggest buying some of that wonderful milk and making your own ricotta? It is dead easy to make, and so delicious when it is extremely fresh. Obviously, this isn't making it with the remainder from making mozzarella, but I must say that I haven't bought ricotta cheese in years and I live where buying locally produced ricotta is actually possible. Just a thought.

    11 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      That's what I like to hear! Could you direct me to a good recipe? I'd still like to find a source, because I won't always have time to make it on my own, unfortunately.

      1. re: Westbrancher

        I use milk, salt and an acid. My acid can be lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. For more richness, you can use some cream as well. I use 1 tablespoon of acid per cup of milk.

        Place milk and salt into a heavy bottomed pot and bring up to 190ยบ. Turn off the heat and mix in the acid gently with a stainless steel spoon [easier to clean.] Cover the pot and wait about 5 minutes until you have curds. Line a colander with cheesecloth and spoon the curds into the cloth. Let drain for about 20 minutes, and you have a loose and lovely ricotta.

        Sometimes, for some reason, I don't get as many curds as I know my milk can produce, so I will gently heat again and add more acid. This is especially true when using Lemon since every lemon is different.

        Start to finish should only take about 30 minutes. If you want more richness, add some cream to the strained ricotta. Other options include finishing salts, herbs, whatever you can think of.

        Strain longer if you want to spread your ricotta onto bread.

        p.s. I save the whey and use when making bread.

        1. re: smtucker

          Thanks. Do you have any suggestions as to quantity (i.e. how much ricotta does 1 cup of milk produce?) How about raw milk versus processed? Does that make any difference?

          1. re: Westbrancher

            I make mine the same way as smtucker does and I usually get about 20 oz of ricotta from a gallon of whole milk. Considering that my local grocery stores charge $5 for a 15oz container, it's a bargain to make it myself. Skim milk will give you a lower yield.

            1. re: Westbrancher

              Good question! I anticipate about a 50% whey extraction. So one cup of milk produces about 1/2 cup of ricotta [and is wildly fast!] Only caution, NEVER use Ultra Pasturized milk. The Ultra process takes the milk to too high a temperature to use for cheese making. MA is not a raw milk friendly state, so I have never tried using it for my cheese. Please report back if you do!

              1. re: smtucker

                I have made ricotta with raw milk - I don't know if it was the lack of homogenization or what, but it didn't curdle as readily as normal pasteurized milk does, and I found that the curds got a little rubbery. Heating the milk to 180 sort of negates the whole point of raw milk anyway, so what I have done since then is make my ricotta with regular pasteurized milk and then add raw cream (if I have any) to the drained product for the creamy, luscious flavor and texture.

                1. re: smtucker

                  I don't know where you are in MA, but there are tons of places here in Western MA ot get raw milk. It must be bought directly from a farm.

              2. re: smtucker

                smtucker, I love making my own ricotta and have often read the suggestion to use the whey in bread-making, but haven't done it myself yet. How exactly do you use the whey? Specifically in recipes that call for milk/dairy, or in lean breads as well? Do you replace all of the liquid with whey, or a fraction? Thanks in advance!

                1. re: lagne

                  I use it in lean breads substituting the whey for water. The whey has a bit of sweetness so I generally do about 2/3rds whey and 1/3 water. Nothing wildly exact however.

                  1. re: lagne

                    I use whey in breadmaking as well - I often replace all of the water in the no-knead bread recipe with whey, and it turns out great. Whey also freezes well, so if you can't use it all at once, just portion it off into freezer bags.

            2. Keswick Creamery in western Cumberland County makes fresh ricotta from the milk of their herd of Jersey cows. They also have a stand at outdoor farmers markets in Carlisle (Wednesday afternoons) and Hershey (Thursday afternoons). Since they don't bring all of their products each week to the farmers markets, you would do best to call ahead and let them know what you need. However, in the time it would take you to make the round trip from Union County, you could have your own ricotta long made and ready to use!

              I don't know of another source in central PA, but you may want to ask the mods to move this thread to the Pennsylvania board. Someone else may be familiar with another place that is closer to you.

              1. Junket rennets websight has several great home recipes for cheeses. The ricotta is very nice.

                1. I've made it using 4 parts whole milk to 1 part buttermilk. The last time I made it, I used a gallon of whole milk and a quart of buttermilk, resulting in 5 cups of ricotta - more than I knew what to do with!

                  Put the two in a heavy bottom pot and heat to 175. Stir to keep the bottom from scorching until it starts to steam.
                  Have a large colander over the sink lined with multiple layers of cheesecloth (I used a double layer of new handi-wipes).
                  At 175F remove pot from the heat and scoop the curds into the colander with a slotted spoon. Let drain to desired dryness.