|(Q) I just got my 30 Minute Mozzarella Kitand I want to make ricotta from the whey, however, your book (Home Cheese Making) says it cannot be done. Why are your directions different from all of the ones I find online that say it can be done?
(A) The mozzarella kit is a process in which no culture is used to produce acidity. Instead, citric acid is added to the milk to provide this acidity. Therefore, the milk goes from being very sweet to it's final acidity for stretching the cheese. This means that any whey draining from the curds will already be too acidic to develop a good ricotta.
You have read about a different process in which bacterial culture slowly develops the acidity. In this case, the whey draining from the curds is taken off earlier in the process and is still sweet enough to form a good ricotta. They are two very different processes.
|(Q) I tried chèvre for the first time today. I used 1 gallon of raw goat's milk purchased at our local food coop. I added 1/8 tsp of calcium chloride and used a packet of chèvre culture. At that point, it was 82°F and I let it coagulate for 12 hours. By then, the final temperature was 70°F.
It had about an inch of whey on the top after 2 hours and the curd looked firm, but when I scooped it out, it seemed like ricotta, as compared to the curd I get when making other cheeses. Is this what the curd should be like?
(A) Buying raw milk from a source that is more than 48 hours from the milking itself is usually problematic. This is normally the case with any off- the-store-shelf milk, since it takes longer than that usually. (It would be nice if they indicated milking dates.)
All fresh milk contains enzymes that remain active and begin working on the proteins as soon as the animal is milked. These proteins have a hard time holding together for a good period. The biggest sign of this is a weak and sloppy curd, as you describe.
|(Q) I tasted my ricotta salata at the 30 day interval and it seems a bit overwhelming in saltiness. At this stage, it's crusting over with salt on the outside, and pretty much tastes like a "block of salt."
I know that even it's name declares it as a "salted" cheese, but following one of the only instructions I could find written on this variety, I re-salted it and re-turned it for the first seven (7) consecutive days following molding/pressing, and stored it in my special cheese fridge all-the-while.
Do you think that was overkill on the salting (7 days worth)? Should it have been salted only once at the un-molding stage and then just turned and aged for 30 days as is?
(A) Could be a couple of things:
Your salting sounds a bit overzealous. We usually recommend salting every other day for 7-10 days. (For a half to three quarter pound cheese, maybe 1/2 tsp each time.)
Also, the ricotta going into the form should have good moisture. Otherwise the salt does not form a brine and move into the cheese. Your salt crust may be an indication of this. If it seems too dry, perhaps you are cooking too long.
A good salata will never taste heavily salted.
|(Q) Would you kindly explain the best way to cut and store a cheese wheel?
(A) That depends largely on what you plan to do with it once you cut it. Once a full wheel is cut, things become a little time sensitive because dehydration and mold growth will become your biggest problems.
For cutting the cheese, it depends upon how large the cheese is and how much moisture it contains. High moisture cheeses of moderate size can be cut with a cheese wire, but drier cheeses will need a heavier tool like a two-handled knife. Cut size depends on where it's going.
Another big consideration is how to protect it before it is used by you or sold. Short term, you can use a simple cheese wrap, but for the longer-term, it needs something that will block moisture loss and prevent mold from growing. This is usually a vacuum packing of some sort.
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