Saturday, July 19, 2008

Homemade goat-milk ricotta

Making your own ricotta couldn't be easier! Last Sunday I read a lovely post from Sarah at Food and Paper about her memories of growing up with goats and of a special family friend who loved to exaggerate. She provided a recipe for homemade ricotta that looked super-simple and delicious; perfect for a beginning cheesemaker like me.
You don't need much: a non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enamel), a candy thermometer, a colander, some fine-mesh dampened cheesecloth (enough to fold over three or four times) and another pot to catch the whey, if you're saving it.

Some recipes call for a gallon of milk and a quart of buttermilk. Since Cutie's milking last night and this morning produced just two quarts and three cups, I stuck with Sarah's proportions of two quarts milk and two cups buttermilk.

You heat the milk, stirring it, until it begins to steam, then stop stirring. Curds will form on the surface at about 175 degrees. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the mixture through the cheesecloth.

Well, I kind of messed up, because I forgot to stop stirring! I was using a cheap pot, and I was worried about the milk burning on the bottom, and next thing I knew, the temperature was closer to 185, the liquid was bubbling, and there was no raft of curds to be seen. You can understand why I do not have a photo of this moment.

Would this be like my homemade mayonnaise fiasco? "It's so easy!" Yeah, right. I messed that one up so badly I didn't even post about it.

Well, I went ahead and poured the liquid into the cheesecloth and found there were some chunkier bits in there along with a lot of finer particles (another reason to use fine-mesh cheesecloth). I let it drip for five minutes, then gathered the edges of the cloth (resisting the urge to squeeze the curds). You could hang the bundle from your kitchen tap, but mine's too curved, so I improvised. with a rubberband and chopstick on the cabinet handles, with a piece of plastic behind to protect the wood.

After about 15 minutes, the cheese was dry and pulled away easily from the cloth in a nice rounded lump. OK, so it's micro-curd ricotta, but it's ricotta nonetheless!
And it tastes great! I mean really great. I didn't add salt or anything to it, and I'm sorely tempted to just eat the whole thing with a spoon.

I could, too. This is only about two cups of cheese, if that. About the size of a large fist. So if you have a lot of milk, this is a great way to turn it into something more compact. It should keep for up to a week, but this batch won't last that long.

I will try another batch using lemon juice or vinegar instead of buttermilk, once I use up the quart I bought. That will be more economical. The whey can be used instead of water in bread-making or pasta-boiling, in making rice or soups or beans, and it makes a good plant food. You can even use it to make sauerkaraut! I found an excellent recipe here, and it just so happens I have a cabbage and carrots.

I'm thinking I will use the ricotta in stuffed kabocha squash, mixed with chard and maybe some ground meat. Off to Google some recipes!

Other recently tested goat-milk recipes:
lacto-fermented sauerkraut
honey vanilla ice cream
Raspberry ice cream
Mexican chocolate pudding
And a great use for this ricotta:
Ricotta torte with squash, corn and dill

Note: If you live in Denver, particularly the south side, the goat dairy still has some shares available. Email me at the address on my profile and I'll send you the particulars.


  1. wow, that is so awesome that you have access to such fresh milk!! I am a huge fan of goat's milk and use it to make a popular Middle Eastern cheese made from strained goat's yogurt. I completely understand what you mean about being cursed with a curved kitchen tap, but I also brainstormed and found an alternative. I happen to have cabinets over my sink and so I simply screwed in a heavy duty hook and have used it to make all sorts of strained cheeses since then! I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  2. I'm amazed at how simple that was. I wish I liked cheese

  3. that reminds me of my youth...I used to eat this with fresh preserves or maple syrup by the bowlful....

  4. Gee, what with your cheese-making and honey...I know whose house I'm going to try to head toward when the apocalypse hits. I'll keep you in sweaters and socks....

  5. Lasana! That's the only time we use that cheese (and usually we use cottage cheese instead). I've never had goats milk. I've lead a sheltered life.

  6. Wow, that is so cool! I can only imagine lasagne with homemade pasta *and* homemade ricotta.

  7. I've been out of raw cow's milk for a month and it's killing me! I did finally find a local farmer (45 miles) who sells goat's milk and eggs, so will try it. If you like Indian food, don't forget to try panir. Easy peasy and the best in spinach panir.

  8. press this cheese under some weight and its like 'paneer', good with simmered veggies.

  9. What an adventure. Nice work!

    I['m just home from the movie Mama Mia and all I can say is that Meryl Streep's character would have done better to keep goats in her goat house and make this cheese than to fill it with old boyfriends!

  10. Hi Antonio! Thanks! An under-cabinet hook sounds like just the thing. I looked at your blog; lovely photos!

    Breezy, I wish you liked cheese, too; you're in the Land of Excellent Cheeses.

    db, that sounds like something I'll have to try.

    Rooie, you've got a deal!

    Julie, I will definitely be making lasagna with a future batch. I just made some last week (with queso fresco), so I'll do something different with this.

    Jen, I'll leave the pasta-making for cooler days. When I have a rolling pin, too.

    Dani, that's a long way to go! Mine's about 12 miles as the crow flies, and even that seems far. I probably will try paneer at some point.

    Dana, I was amazed that was the No. 2 movie this weekend. I'll see it some day.

  11. I'm dying to make cheese. Good for you!

  12. I have been wanting to try making my own ricotta for a while now. bookmarked

  13. Leslie, you can use store-bought whole milk (cow or goat) for this. Just don't use ultra-pasteurized.

    Kevin, it's so very easy.

  14. So glad to see someone else making cheese! I just made my second batch of fromage blanc and ricotta is next on my list. You might enjoy this video:

  15. This is seriously cool. I'd have to get my goat's milk from the store, unfortunately. But you do have me wondering if I might find some at a local farmer's market...Now with your bee keeping, and cheese making, what's next? Susan over at Wild Yeast is building a mud oven in her back yard...

    You rock, Kitt. Period.

  16. wonderful - now if i only had a goat or a sheep... i will ask around. i did google it but to no avail. but i might try harder. it'd be fantastic to do this....

    thank you!!!