Ricotta: Fresh and Aged

Enjoy ricotta fresh, or salt and age it to take the flavor to a new level. Get ricotta recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Ricotta didn’t interest me as a homemade cheese until I spotted an aged, salted version in Karen Solomon’s Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. She described its texture and saltiness as resembling Romano but less complex. That, I thought, is a cheese I could love. Homemade Romano is a cultured cheese that is repeatedly molded, pressed, brined, and salted before it is aged 8–12 months. So a substitute that takes less than an hour of hands-on time and is ready in a week or so seemed perfect.

This aged cheese starts with ricotta made entirely from fresh milk. If you already make Lemon Cheese, the ricotta recipe will look familiar: it’s essentially the same cheese, although I tend to drain it for less time so that it’s soft and moist. Like the lemon version, it can be eaten fresh. I often make a double batch of ricotta, setting aside half to enjoy straightaway and aging the other half into the Romano replacement.

The only ingredient difference between Whole-Milk Ricotta and Lemon Cheese is the acid used to separate the curds from the whey. The ricotta recipe uses citric acid, a powder with a sour, neutral flavor rather than a lemony one. It’s usually easier to find than the cheese cultures in last week’s post; if you can’t buy it from a local natural-foods store, you can order it online from the sources I provided for cheese cultures.
Learn to make Whole-Milk Ricotta and Ricotta Salata

Soft Cheeses

Learn to make soft cheeses, and you have so many choices. Get soft cheese recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I’ve always loved the tang of goat cheese, or chèvre. Unfortunately, goat milk is hard to find in my area. Local stores tend to carry one ultrapasteurized brand or a powdered version—neither of which works for cheese. Regulations for selling milk directly to individuals are so strict, convoluted, and enforced that it feels like a black market. I occasionally trade with friends who are milking goats (and have momma and babies willing to share), but mostly I gave up on making soft cheese.

That changed when I took a chance on fromage blanc. I’d written off this cow’s milk cheese as too mild for my tastes. But it has a surprising amount of tang and flavor. Best of all, the technique for soft cheeses really does work across milk types—cow or goat, reduced fat or whole milk or cream. It can be soft and spreadable or drained until it crumbles. It can be shaped or molded, and it absorbs flavors like herbs, zests, and spices. Learn to make soft cheeses, and you have so many choices. You can do it!
Learn to make Homemade Fromage Blanc and other soft cheeses