MAKING RICOTTA, Paneer or curd cheese

I think I have fallen in love with rich Jersey milk.

It is so easy to make the curds  to make ricotta.

All it takes is full cream milk and some lemon juice. The only other things you’ll need are a slotted spoon and a colander lined with cheese cloth (muslin) to strain the curds.

You may have a ricotta basket handy – if you buy ricotta it is often sold in a plastic basket and you can use it to drain the curds and shape the ricotta.

A slotted spoon will be handy to gently scoop out the curds.

Making ricotta is very simple.

I used 3 litres of milk, two lemons and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Bring the milk almost to a simmer on medium heat, add some salt and wait till little bubbles form close to the edge of the pot before you add the lemon juice; stir it in gently. The milk should separate into clumps of curds, and the whey will be thin and watery. If not enough of the milk has separated, reheat it and add a little bit more lemon juice and once again stir it gently. Once it has separated leave it undisturbed for about 10  minutes; stirring will make the curds dense.

Gently scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon – do not pour – into a large ricotta basket or a colander lined with cheese cloth that you have placed over a bowl to catch the whey.

A culinary specialty and a way of serving ricotta in Sicily (especially in the Ragusa region) is to ladle the curds with the whey into a bowl and to eat it with a spoon and bread.

** See post, A visit to Massaro,  link below.

How long you let the curds drain or how firmly you press them down will determine how solid the curds will be. If the curds are too solid you may need some whey to mix back into the curds. But if you think of how many recipes suggest that you drain the ricotta before using it for making cannoli, cassata, frittata, ravioli, baked ricotta, ricotta salata, scacce,  having firm ricotta is advantageous.

There are many recipes using ricotta on my blog that can easily be found by using the search button.

Traditionally, ricotta is made by heating the left-over whey from other cheese-making. The curds are worked to make and shape cheeses like mozzarella, trecce, fior di latte, bocconcini, and reheating the whey produces the fine-grained curd that traditionally makes ricotta – ri-cotta, translated as re-cooked/twice cooked. Usually more rich milk is added to the whey to make a full cream ricotta.

The curds can also be formed to make quark, cottage cheese and paneer. When I make paneer I do not add salt to the milk and I drain the curds or press them for longer.

however, the three links below are about making ricotta. The photo above is how ricotta is shaped and sold in Sicily .

SICILIAN CHEESE MAKING. A VISIT TO A MASSARO (farmer-cheese maker) IN RAGUSA. 

RICOTTA how to make it (using rennet)

RICOTTA and FRIED PEPPERS (Peperoni fritti). The Butter Factory at Myrtleford

The whey has many uses especially for baking. My partner bakes bread, flatbreads and cracker biscuits). I have not yet used whey for marinating meat, but I do braise pork in milk – a Bolognese specialty. The milk separates and forms a caramel when heated slowly at a low temperature for a few hours. I will write a recipe for this in my next post.

 

2 thoughts on “MAKING RICOTTA, Paneer or curd cheese”

  1. WOW! How nice is this post! Thank you! Could you also let us know to make it into ricotta salata so it will keep longer…

    1. Hi, I have not made ricotta salata but my understanding is that once you have drained and set your ricotta you rub it on the surface with salt, re wrap it in cheese cloth and repeat this for a number of days. Keep it in the fridge while you go through this process. The salt with draw out the liquid and help to preserve it. When the ricotta is really dry it can be taken out of the fridge, unwrapped and placed in front of a slow fan for a few days so as to dry it out further. You can see why I have never had the patience to do this.

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