Ricotta – Simple, elegant and made with goat’s milk
Cow’s milk and me do not agree, so for years I did without all the amazing cheeses that are made from it. It wasn’t long before I found suitable substitutes, like goat’s milk Gouda, and Peccorino Romano and Roquefort made from ewe’s milk. The two goat’s milk cheeses I could not find readily available were Mozzarella and Ricotta.
Ricotta, as the name implies, is traditionally made by “re-cooking” the whey left over from making cheese. Now, that really sounded complicated. Occasionally, I would come across a recipe for homemade Ricotta, but the result was usually a gloppy or grainy mess, and a gallon of milk wasted.
Then a few weeks ago, while I was browsing in my favorite nursery cum back-to-the-land store, I ran across a remarkable little book, called (who knew?) Home Cheese Making, which practically fell open to the page entitled, “Whole Goat’s-Milk Ricotta,” and I discovered that there was no need to follow the traditional re-cooked method. With the proper temperature and a little apple cider vinegar, the result was astonishingly easy and really very good!
There are a couple of tricks to making good ricotta from whole goat’s milk. First, do not boil the milk. This will give the finished ricotta a “cooked” taste. Second, do not drain it too long. A minute is all you need; longer, and the texture will lose its lightness. I’ll admit I was leery about adding baking soda for fear it would add its flavor, which I find unpleasant. The result was completely free of the baking soda taste, and also quite neutral, without a trace of sourness from the vinegar.
Here is my version:
GOAT’S MILK RICOTTA
Makes about 2 pounds
- 1 gallon goat’s milk
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- In a large pot that holds at least 6 qt., heat the goat’s milk to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Do not allow to boil.
- Slowly stir in the vinegar. There should be a clear separation between the curds and the whey.
- Pour the mixture through a strainer that has been lined with damp butter muslin or several layers of cheese cloth. Allow to drain for one minute.
- Remove the curds to a bowl and mix in the baking soda and cream.
- Store in a tightly-covered container for up to 10 days.