July 29, 2009
Home Creamery: Ricotta Salata
by Gareth Mark
A couple of weeks ago I was out at Kookoolan Farms to take a goat cheese class. While I was there I picked up a nice basket mold for ricotta salata. Raw goat milk was available at a nearby farm. I had everything I needed to try to make ricotta salata.
I decided to follow, more or less, the instructions in Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. First, I made a batch of Whole Milk Ricotta using a full gallon of raw goat milk. I used the two-pan method to heat the milk; that's milk in a smaller pan, water in a larger pan, small pan into the water. I find it gives much better control with much less risk of scorching.
The curds are fairly fragile at first, so I carefully ladled them into a colander line with butter muslin. Then I used a food-safe rubber band to make the muslin into a bag and hang it from the skimmer to let the cheese drain.
After an hour, I carefully transferred the curds to the ricotta mold. I used a bit of plastic over the cheese, then set a plate on top and a can of tomatoes on the plate to use as a weight.
The instructions say to remove the cheese from the mold after an hour and turn it over. That didn't seem reasonable because of the shape of the mold, so I added more weight and continued to press the cheese for about 8 hours.
When I was satisfied that it was drained as thoroughly as it would be, I unmolded the cheese and salted it liberally with cheese salt. Then I wrapped it in cheesecloth and put it into the refrigerator. Every couple of days for the next two weeks I salted the cheese and changed the cheesecloth.
The cheese turned out very tasty and fairly creamy, with a slight hint of goaty-ness. It isn't a grateable cheese, but that's just a matter of continuing to age it before tasting.
Overall, I'm rather pleased with the result, especially because this was my first attempt at making a semi-hard cheese. Now that I know cheesemaking isn't really all that difficult, I'll try some longer-aging cheeses.