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June 17, 2007

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Melissa

Hi Lindy, I agree completely - cheesemaking is not only doable, but lots of fun. Granted, I've only ever made paneer and ricotta, but you gotta start somewhere, right? By the way, ricotta doesn't actually need any specialized ingredients; buttermilk or lemon juice both work just fine as curdling agents. You can read about the technique I used on my post about cannoli (http://www.travelerslunchbox.com/journal/2006/4/16/sicily-campagna-cannoli-and-uninvited-company.html) - I used buttermilk as the souring agent and cream for richness. Yum.

I can't wait to read about your mozzarella adventures!

lindy

Absolutely true, Melissa. I actually jumped at the chance to get some citric acid, though, (along with the book and some other stuff), in part because I'm looking forward to canning tomatoes again this year, and I'm always a little uncomfortable with using lemon juice- as the acidity in lemons varies so much.

I guess it used to be that tomatoes were reliably acidic enough to can without any additives, but the acidity (and some flavor) has been systematically bred out of a lot of them. Apparently now,to be safe, you need to add acid, if you don't use a pressure canner. I do this, despite using my CSA farmers lovely San Maranzanos, which taste plenty sharply tomatoey to me. 'Cause I had food poisoning once, and really wished myself dead at the time. In another country, at another time, but definitely very bad...made me a coward a bit.

The citric acid can be easily measured, and is more of a constant-so I'll be going with that for my tomatoes this year. Not at all important for the ricotta, though, as I understand it.

I'm going to make some cannoli cream with mine, to have with berries.

Lynn D.

I tried to make goat milk ricotta once (I would, wouldn't I?) and failed utterly. I see now that it is probably because I can only get ultrapasteurized goat milk. Bummer.

ann

mmmm... cheese... I think cheesemaking has become the new winemaking in that it's what everyone dreams of doing when they retire. I know I do!

Tanna

The ricotta I made was really fantastic so it's very easy for me to see that you would now have the desire to make cheese. I was really overwhelmed by how much different and better it tasted than what I get from the store. Now, I'm really looking forward to see what you do with this and then move onto the mozzarella.

farmgirl

This is too weird. I've had your earlier post about Animal, Vegetable, Mineral open for days but hadn't commented yet. Had to shut down the computer today, reopened your blog, and poof! there was your cheese post. What's weird is that between first reading your AVM post (and realizing that THANK GOODNESS I don't have any desire to make homemade cheese) and now, I've made cheese! Entirely by accident, as I was trying to make yogurt, which I've successfully made for years. I have no idea what I did wrong, and after reading your cheesemaking instructions to heat the milk to just 190F, I have no idea how I was able to previously make yogurt and not cheese, as I've often made it with milk that had boiled all over the stove (well, not with that milk obviously, but with what remained in the pot). Anyway, after doing a bit of online research, I figured out that I'd probably made ricotta. All I know is that it tasted fantastic when sprinkled with some salt. Didn't look beautiful like yours, though, was shaped more like cottage cheese but drier, if that makes sense. I'm thinking that I've inadvertantly become a cheesemaker, but what I really want to know is if I'll ever be able to make yogurt again! : )

P.S. You know you can grind up some Vitamin C tablets with a mortar and pestle anytime you need ascorbic acid--which I believe can be used like citric acid? Though I might be remembering this wrong. Anyway, I use it when canning tomatoes, and I also have my butcher put it into the all -atural lamb summer sausage they make for me in place of nitrates.

farmgirl

Ack. That would of course be all-natural lamb summer sausage. . .

Kimberly

What fun! It's hard to find cheese that's low enough in sodium for my husband to eat, so making our own would be perfect. There are a couple of local dairies around here that sell raw milk at the farmers markets; now we just need to get the other supplies...

Can't wait to see your mozzerella!

lindy

Lynn-The cheese queen says that you can make very satisfactory ricotta using powdered milk.(She suggests this for people who cannot get milk except for the ultra stuff.)-I wonder if goat milk could be ordered in powdered form and would work similarly?

Farmgirl-Thanks for the vitamin c tip.At the moment I feel as if I will never run out of citric acid powder, but if I really get going with the cheese, who knows? Regards to Whitey's brood. I like the look of the speckly one especially.

Kimberly- According to the aforementioned royalty, it is absolutely unnecessary to use salt if you don't want to, so you could definitely do that.

Kate

Hi Lindy,
I too just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and was inspired to try my hand at making cheese. I am going to order supplies from the cheese lady and can't wait to see, uh taste, the results!
Kate

Nupur

This is the exact same way we make paneer in India :) Your cheese looks very inviting, Lindy! If you like, you could use it to make some Indian dishes :) like paneer pilaf, tandoori paneer kebabs or spinach paneer.
You are inspiring me to try making other types of cheeses...

lindy

Kate-I'm going with the ricotta salata next, I think. the ricotta is just so good, I've made it several times now.

Nupur-The spinach paneer is a particularly timely suggestion, as my farmbox is over-flowing with beautiful spinach of late.

Becky

As a longtime reader who passionately shares your jamming, pickling, and charcuterie obsessions, I'm thrilled that you have started cheesemaking. I find it to be completely satisfying, especially as the cheese quality of ricotta and mascarpone and other "fresh" cheese is vastly superior to what can be found at the standard market. I must recommend the mascarpone with tartic acid recipe, as it's divine. The bonus is that you can find the tartaric acid (and citric acid, if you so desire) as any homebrew/winemaking shop, which is always a fun area to play around with. Also, if you are quite a cheese person, the Queen sells some nifty cheese wrapping paper for mold-ripened soft cheese and waxed cheese that keep the cheese tasty and fresh for weeks (unless I eat it first) that I recommend getting.

lindy

Becky-I'm so glad to hear from you. Mascarpone! Sounds totally wonderful. I haven't done anything charcuterie-wise for a while, you've got me thinking about it again.
My next cheese project-which I have started on-is the ricotta salata. I am thrilled with the whole milk ricotta-I've made it several times. I like to drain it thoroughly, and have a slice on top of some whole grain bread, with salt, pepper and sliced radishes. Yum.
I like the sound of the cheese paper,-I'm trying to restrain myself from buying too much in the way of gear and supplies at first, because I have a tendency to want to go overboard. but I might need to get some anyway.

Tomi

How wonderful to read all these examples of culinary experimentation and enjoyment. I've been baking break since I was 10 (I'm now 44) and continue to find new and exciting ways in which to prepare my favorite food.

Today was my first endeavor in the cheese making process. I made mozzarella which turned out fantasitc, and tried to make ricotta but the yield was small, nicely smooth, but small. I let it sit after brining it to 190 for about 15 minutes. I wonder if my whey was too acidic, would that make the curds very small? What do y'all think? Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Kathryn Arnold

I realize you haven't posted here in a bit but I wanted to tell you what lovely, simple and straightforward directions you give! I must have watched a dozen videos and read another dozen recipes before I chose ricotta as the easiest for a first attempt at cheesemaking. While it's unfortunate that I found your blog while searching for troubleshooting on my FAILED attempt....it's lovely that my failure led me to your blog. I also enjoyed a post about your cooking class holiday to Chicago. Sweet! Thank you.

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