Ricotta Salata – A Simple Pressed & Salted Cheese

In this post we’ll cover a simple semi-firm pressed cheese – ricotta salata. This is a great recipe for your first adventures in pressed cheese since the ricotta is so simple to make and the final product can be made using very basic equipment. You don’t need a cheese press and you don’t even need to cut any curds!To make this cheese you can use the ricotta recipe posted earlier one this site, and if you choose, your handmade mold from this post.

As the name implies ricotta salata is a salty cheese from Italy that uses ricotta as its base. It can be used fresh or aged for an extended time. When it’s young, ricotta salata is similar in taste to a Greek style feta. It works well served in an antipasto or as a garnish for pasta. Try substituting ricotta salata in any recipe that calls for feta. If you age it long enough it can be used as a grating cheese – sort of a poor man’s Parmesan. If you make several at a time you can sample the cheese at different stages of aging and see which you like best.

Like feta (which many of you have probably made) whey is sweated from the pressed ricotta using salt. This helps create a drier cheese while also imparting a salty tang. And, like feta this recipe is pretty forgiving. However, unlike feta it is not cultured and requires no rennet.

Supplies

  • Ricotta – yield from ½ gallon will fill 1 mold
  • Non-iodized salt
  • 1 or more molds – fresh or ricotta style, or ones you made yourself

Instructions

  1. Make ricotta. Use your tried and true recipe or the one previously posted here.
  2. Line mold(s) with a damp cheese cloth. Ladle the curds into the mold(s).
  3. Fold cheese cloth over curds trying to keep it flat as possible. Add follower if you have one. Press at 10lbs for at least 12 hours or overnight, flipping once. Depending on the temperature and humidity in your kitchen you may need to press it at a slightly higher weight or for a longer time for the curds to knit together properly. It’s ready when it is a semi-solid brick.IMG_3143IMG_6588
  4. Generously salt all sides of the cheese and transfer to a storage container and refrigerate (in a cheese cave if possible).  Ideally the cheese should be raised off the bottom of the container so it’s not sitting in the whey, but if you drain the whey off every day it will be fine.IMG_2588
  5. Continue salting, draining and flipping the cheese every other day until you have repeated this 7 times.
  6. Rub off an extra salt and pat dry. Wrap in cheese paper and store in your fridge for the desired length of time.

Last Night’s Class

A huge thank you to all the ladies who attended my Italian cheese making class last night at the wonderful Cooking Spotlight. Such a great group of people, including the fabulous host Vicky. Stay tuned for a Greek cheese class in April!

Getting ready for class! Part of my mobile cheese teaching.

A Big Thank You to Berks Homebrew!

Thanks so much to the Berks Homebrew Club for letting me do a demo February 11th! I had a wonderful time talking about beer and cheese with everyone! If anyone wants to check them out, here’s there site: www.berkshomebrew.org/

So much milk! I love the chance to use so many gallons of milk. This went into cheese curds for sampling and ricotta for the demo.

So much milk! I love the chance to use so many gallons of milk. This went into cheese curds for sampling and ricotta for the demo.

Washing Cheese Cloths

I plan on doing a more in-depth look at cheese cloths (types, where to buy, etc.) in the future, but since I often get asked “how do I clean them” in my classes, I thought I’d post on the topic now.

I only buy hemmed flour sacking. If your cloths are not hemmed, the flowing method may destroy them. However, it is THE BEST way to get them truly clean and also the least labor intensive. Which, long story short is why I recommend flour sacking.

  1. In cold water rinse all the cheese bits and gunk off (or at least as much as you possibly can.)
  2. If you are not washing them immediately, store them in a pot with a generous squirt of dish soap, a generous splash of bleach and top with water until cloths are covered. If you do not wash them with in 3-ish days they will get funky!
  3. Wash them in your washing machine. That’s right! Strictly speaking a metal drum is better, but for the home cheese maker plastic is fine.
    1. Put the size setting on 1 larger than your load. Usually cloths only equal a small load but to wash them set it on medium so there’s plenty of water and agitation to thoroughly clean them.
    2. Use the hottest water setting.
    3. Add a small amount of dye and perfume free detergent.
    4. Add 1 cup of bleach.
    5. If your machine has an extra rinse cycle it’s good to use, or, particularity  if your clothes were fairly dirty, manually run the rinse+spin cycle again. This helps ensure your cloths and machine are totally clean. Depending on the load I don’t always do this as it’s no very eco-friendly.
  4. Dry the cloths in the dryer, without fabric softener, on the highest setting until dry.
  5. Fold and store clean cloths in a clean covered container.

Cheese Making Outside of Philly Feb 25

If there’s anyone in the greater Philly area interested in cheese making I have a class on Feb 25 at the wonderful cooking spotlight in Phoenixville PA. In class we will cover basic cheese making principles by covering two Italian cheeses – ricotta & mascarpone. Students will leave being able to confidently make a variety of soft cheeses at home using mostly supplies you already own. For a full description and to sign up follow their link:

http://www.cookingspotlight.com/ai1ec_event/art-of-cheese-making-italian-style/?instance_id=1513

“Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality.”

Clifton Fadiman

Tips and tricks for great homemade cheese.

Here’s some tips and tricks for making delicious and safe milk and cheese at home.

Milking

  • Keep your bucks separated from your milkers. The most common complaint I’ve heard about goat products is that they are too strong, musky or goaty. This is often caused by a buck rubbing his stink all over the milkers. The subsequent musky (and that’s speaking kindly) aroma contaminates the milk with its taste.  If you like that strong taste power to you, but keep in mind others might not agree, and the marketability, or just appreciation, of your products may be diminished.
  • Keep udders and surrounding areas clean. The most important way to do this is to have proper, fresh, dry bedding in the barn. Regularly cleaning your barn will save you time in the milk room – muddy udders take elbow grease to clean up! Goats with a lot of hair or pantaloons may benefit from a dairy clip to keep hair and dirt out of the milk.
  • As you are milking always keep the milk you’ve already collected covered. This will prevent flies, dust, and other foreign objects from getting into you milk which is good for safety and flavor.
  • If you are using any lotions or ointments on your does’ udders, apply them after they are milked to avoid contaminating the milk with foreign flavors or chemicals.
  • Never use milk from a goat you suspect or know has mastitis.

Storage

  • Do not add fresh warm to a container of cold milk. This can cause off flavors and encourage bacterial growth by increasing the amount of time in the  temperature “danger zone.” Completely chill new milk before combining it with the previous batch.
  • Refrigerate milk and cheese products at 38-40F. This will extend the shelf life of milk and cheese. You may find it helpful to keep a thermometer in your fridge so you can keep an eye on the temperature.
  • When storing cheese, air is bad. Not only will air degrade the quality of cheese by disrupting the moisture content, it also aids bacteria growth. When storing soft cheese make sure to squish out all air pockets out. A good way to store hard cheese, particularly if you’re not using it quickly or if you cut into a wheel but want to make it last, is to vacuum seal it. (Note: as hard cheeses are aging they may need to breathe, so read and follow your recipe instructions carefully.)
  • I know many people feel strongly about using raw milk, but if you cannot quickly consume your raw milk cheese or are not ageing it, you may want to pasteurize it. Keep in mind, low-temp home pasteurization is much kinder on the milk and not nearly as many beneficial things are destroyed. My guidelines are: if I’m feeding it to other people, serving it in an environment prone to bacteria growth (think sitting out at a party for a few hours), or I’m giving it to someone else, I err on the safe side and pasteurize.
  • Cultures, lipase and molds go in the freezer. Rennet and CaCl (if you have it) go in the fridge.

Equipment

  • I use cheese making day as a reason to force me to clean my counters. First I scrub my sink and stove top, and then I clear my one counter of all items not being used for cheese, and sanitize the walls and countertop. This way I have a clean area to sanitize my equipment, and a clean area to dry it.
  • Make sure all equipment is thoroughly cleaned before sanitizing it. If there is any dried or stuck on material you cannot effectively sanitize the item. Bacteria need a place to live, and stubborn food particles are a lot more hospitable than stainless steel. Basically, if it’s still dirty you can’t make it bacteria free.
  • It is best to let sanitized items air dry. This allows any remaining bleach to gas off, and it’s more sanitary – towels often harbor bacteria. If you need to dry something use a paper towel.
  • Avoid pots with rivets on the inside and other equipment that has seams or crevices. These areas collect gunk and residue and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Make sure all equipment can be sterilized. For example, I avoid wooden spoons and those bamboo drying mats.
  • This can be tricky – pour your cultures into the measuring spoon instead of sticking the spoon into the cultures. This preserves the purity of the culture and helps prevent contamination.
  • Thoroughly rinse cheese cloths after use. If you are not washing them immediately, immerse them in water with some dish detergent and bleach.
  • If you have hemmed cheese clothes they can be washed in the washed machine. It’s best to use unscented detergent, add a generous amount of bleach and run an extra rinse cycle.

Happy and safe cheese making!

Tips and tricks for the best homemade cheese at Hoegger.

Tips and tricks for the best homemade cheese.

Here’s some tips and tricks for the freshest best tasting cheese!

http://hoeggerfarmyard.com/tips-for-safe-delicious-home-grown-milk/

 

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