Thursday, September 2, 2010

Challenge: Ricotta Salata

Our newest Cheesy Challenge is going to be Ricotta Salata.  Ricotta Salata is a sliceable cheese with a texture similar to Romano, but it is not nearly as it doesn't get better with age.  It should be eaten within a week or so.  Basically you use the curds you get from making Ricotta (loose, fresh cheese) and press and salt them.

If you've never made a basic Ricotta, well then...this is your chance to knock out two cheesy challenges at once!  As usual, you are welcome to use any recipe or method you choose...but I'll go ahead and give you one just in case you don't have one that you already like...or are just too lazy to go looking. No shame in's like I'm talking to myself. I'll start with a Ricotta recipe...gotta start with the basics...and then move on to the Ricotta Salata. Lots of people who are already into making cheese make Ricotta with the whey left after making another cheese...great! Use your chosen method for making Ricotta...then skip down the the Ricotta Salata!

Ricotta Cheese
from jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon
yield: 1¼ c.

8 c. whole milk
1 tsp. citric acid
¼ c. water
2 Tbs. half & half
1 tsp. kosher salt

Pour milk into saucepan.  In small bowl, dissolve citric acid in water, then add it to the milk and set over medium heat.  Stir to distribute the acid evenly.  When temperature of milk reaches 190° F (~15-20 mins.), turn off the heat.  Do not stir or disturb the milk and let sit for ~10 mins. to allow curds and whey to separate.

Gently strain solids from the liquids in a fine mesh sieve.  Don't press or squeeze at all.  Once most of liquid has dripped out, move the curds to a bowl and toss with cream and salt.

Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
fresh Ricotta is loose like this photo credit

NOW that you have fresh Ricotta cheese....let's turn it into Ricotta Salata!

Ricotta Salata
from jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon
yield: 1 (6-8 oz) cheese

1 1/4 c. Ricotta Cheese Curds
4 tsp. kosher salt, or more if needed

Pour the cheese curds into a cheese press and press at room temperature for 3-4 hours, until solid.  Once the cheese has come together, gently coat the exterior w/ 2 tsp.of the salt (or more), then wrap in a clean kitchen towel.  Place wraped cheese on a plate, and refrigerate for 2 days.

Remove cheese from fridge, rub with 1 more tsp. salt and replace cloth with a clean cloth.  Let sit another 2 days.  Repeat once more; cheese should be quite firm.

Once it's ready to eat, brush off as much of the salt as possible, and slice from center out-as you would a pie. Enjoy immediately.
Ricotta Salata photo credit
*Okay Forgers...Cheese on!  
Link up to the current month's linky post (which can always be found via link on sidebar) once you've made it and posted on your blog!


Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I am really looking forward to this one, thanks Heather!

Wanda said...

Oh good, a cheese I can make--I have trouble finding ingredients like cream that isn't ultrapasteurized! Looking forward to this one.

Foodycat said...

Excellent! I can do this one! I passed on the colby.

lexi said...

ok...lets say that you have never made anything but butter and watery yogurt. Where do you get something like citric acid? Isn't that just lemon juice? Also--how do you press cheese? Wrap it in a ball in a mesh sieve and put a plate/can on top?

So I need to go buy a book???? LOL!

girlichef said...

Hey Lexi...well, if you check out our sidebar, we have links to different cheese supply sources. I've personally used The Cheesemaker and Dairy Connection for ordering supplies and been very pleased!! As far as a press goes...YUP! We all get creative and improvise, LOL!! Of course you can order presses, but usually a colander lined with butter muslin or many layers of cheese cloth topped by plates, bricks, barbell weights, name it, we've probably tried it!!! You don't get as "polished" a look, but it sure is cheesy goodness anyhoo!!! Good luck...and if you have anymore question please keep asking =)

Crystal said...

Sweet - I just started making cheese at home - and I am about to make Ricotta sometime this month. Looking forward to it! Awesome website! :)

Anonymous said...

Found a recipe yesterday for ricotta bread - this month's challenge is perfect! Just have to make the double amount to have enough ricotta left for the ricotta salata.

veena krishnakumar said...

one simple may be a little dumb question...what is half and half?any other substitute for this because have not heard of anything like this here in chennai

girlichef said...

Hi Veena! Sorry about that (not a dumb question)...half and half is a half cream/half milk mixture that we can buy readily available. If you cannot get it that way, I imagine just whisking together half the amount of cream/milk to make the whole would work just fine!

a moderate life said...

Look who is here? lol ME...hey, I had some extra milk because we were away and it was about to go sour, so I thought I would make something with it and came upon this. I LOVE riccotta de salata which one of my very italian friends introduced me to on a christmas eve many years ago. So, I have the curds made for the riccotta, can I use a coffee can with the top and bottom cut out, a cheese cloth and then a weight on top for the cheese press? Lemme know! Look forward to making my own cheese! :) Alex

girlichef said...

Yes, Alex...that is exactly what I'm using...a can w/ top & bottoms cut off, then reused for weighting. I skip the cheesecloth and set it right inside a bowl....On hour 2 right this very minute!!!

Anonymous said...

So, after several days of leaving the ricotta salata in the fridge, salting and re-wrapping it, we tried the first slices today. Well, it was disappointing - the hubby said it tasted like firm salted milk. I agree... Additionally, I had problems with the texture - I really don't like soft cheeses. Here's hoping next month's challenge will be a success flavorwise ;o).

Kris said...

This is genius!

Couscous & Consciousness said...

Ok, so I just made my first batch of ricotta - so far so good I think. But now I have a huge bowl of left over whey. Is there anything I can do with that? Also, once you've used your muslin cloth, can you re-use it for another batch at a later date, or is it better to throw the cloth away and use a new one each time. If it can be re-used what is best suggestion for cleaning it - I'm guessing you wouldn't want to throw it in the washing machine and expose it to laundry powder? Hope you don't mind all these questions.
Sue :-)

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Hi Sue! I save the whey in a mason jar, in the fridge, and use it for my next batch of bread in place of water.
As for cleaning the cloth - depends on your cloth I guess. My cheesecloth is too (cheap) fragile and can't take a washing - I put it in the municipal compost. But for a good quality one - I would give washing it a go - maybe with a spot of bleach?

Rebecca said...

Hi Sue! I do the same with my whey as Natashya.

Great question about the cheese cloth. You can definitely save and reuse it if it's good quality cloth and in good shape (not ripped).

Here's what I do: After cheesemaking, wash with COLD water to remove all the milk solids/curds. Then throw it into the wash (I use unscented detergent) with the laundry. Before using for cheesemaking again, put it in a pot of boiling water for several minutes to kill anything off that might be lingering on it. I've used mine for several years now and they're still great.

Couscous & Consciousness said...

Hi Natashya & Rebecca - thanks so much for your advice. Since leaving my comment I found another website with instructions on how to make ricotta out of whey, so I actually made another batch of ricotta (bonus!). Next time I'll definitely try saving it for bread making though.
Thanks for advice on the cloths as well - very helpful.
Sue :-)

Larissa said...

I have made ricotta, creme fraiche, fromage blanc and quark (very similar to Russian "Tvorog"), as well as yogurt (from culture and from another batch of yogurt). I am on a homemade buttermilk kick right now - I use it for smoothies and for baking - I have been using the same yogurt starter for 8 weeks now and it's still going strong!
My question is about using whey - I just read that using whey in a lot of cooking may not be all that great for you ( I would love to use it in other foods, but the article made an interesting point.
Let me know if you have heard anything similar.

girlichef said...

@Larissa...I have heard this, as well. But I still use it. It's been used for centuries. As with anything, it is really a personal choice. =)