Today I set out to make some ricotta cheese from goat milk. It is not a easy as making chevre, but you get your cheese faster since it only takes about 4-5 hours from the time you start boiling water to sterilize your pots to the time the cheese is done draining (if you choose to drain it at all).
Whatever cheese you are making, it always begins the same way. You need to boil all of the utensils and cookware you plan to use during the course of making cheese.
Today all I needed was:
- 8 qt. stock pot with lid
- 1/2 C measuring cup
- 1 tsp. measuring spoon
- Skimmer - picture a big spoon with holes in it (a ladle can also work)
- Rubber spatula
- A strainer or colander with small holes - a mesh strainer might even be best, but I don't have one to try
- 2 tsp. citric acid
- 2 tsp. sea salt - You can use kosher as well, but never used iodized salt or your cheese turns green
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream (heavy pasteurized works fine)
- 1 gallon goat milk
So to begin, I put my utensils in the pot and covered them with water and waiting until it boiled. I pour off the hot water and use the skimmer to fish out the hot utensils and set them aside on a clean towel.
Making the Cheese
Measure out your 1 gallon of milk and pour it into the pot along with your acid, 1 tsp of salt, and the cream and gently mix it together. Cheese makers commonly recommend using a gentle up and down motion to mix milk rather than the typical swirling around the pan. Now that the easy part is over, it is time to SLOWLY heat the milk to 184 degrees F.
And I MEAN SLOWLY.
If you have a double boiler that can hold a gallon of milk, that would be ideal. I don't have one so I had to scrape the bottom of the pan regularly with the spatula to try to stop the milk from scorching, but I still got a little scorching. It took about an hour and a half (maybe 2 hours) to slowly get the milk to 184 degrees. After that, remove the pot from the heat, set the lid on and wait for 15 minutes while the curds really set up. After 15 minutes, fish the curds out with a strainer, ladle, or spoon and place them in the strainer or colander.
Don't use a cheese cloth!
I made this mistake and it does two things:
- The curds are not setup completely and you will lose cheese as it is sucked into the cloth.
- The curds will settle to the bottom of the cloth and stop the whey from draining.
Instead, gently place the curds into the strainer and gently fold the remaining 1 tsp. of salt into the cheese. After that you can enjoy it immediately or you can drain it for up to an hour depending on how much moisture you like in your ricotta.
So all in all this is a pretty simple cheese, but it requires your attention for up to 2 hours if you are slow and paranoid like me. If you have any tips or tricks to speed this process up without ruining a weeks worth or milk, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Also, consider letting me know some other topics you'd like to see. Until next time, take care!