Author Topic: Ricotta Fail...  (Read 2624 times)

Offline scubagirlwonder

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Ricotta Fail...
« on: June 04, 2010, 11:07:31 PM »
Hey all!
I decide to try my hand at ricotta today since I was making a Pepper Jack and have gotten tired of wasting all that good whey! I am still awaiting results but here's my story....
So here's what I did:
Heated 8 quarts fresh whey and 1.5 quarts whole pasteurized non-homogenized milk to 200F (at which point I noticed "curds" already forming...(you know how egg drop soup looks when the egg is just mixed in-kinda stringy...) Wasn't sure if this was normal, since it was my first time and all, but seemed rather odd regardless...anyway, once whey reached 200F, Added 1/3 cup white vinegar, removed from heat and let set while my husband and I went out to dinner...came back and poured the lot into a cheesecloth lined colander.
So the curds are currently draining, all 1 cup-ish of them, and I am seriously having my doubts...
What do you think? I saw no "fluffy, white curds" floating on the top of my whey as others have described and the minuscule yield even after adding milk was disappointing at best....Advice?  :-\
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Offline Alex

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2010, 11:35:43 PM »
I had similar problems, and I got very usefull help from people on the forum. Please type "ricotta alex" in the search box and read the threads initiated by me, lots of info.
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Offline scubagirlwonder

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2010, 12:45:27 PM »
Hey Alex,
 Thanks for the reply, yes, I saw your thread and actually read it and several others, but I just didn't find the answers to my questions, that's why I started my own post....after letting my curds drain over night, I have no idea what Dr. Frankenstein kind of cheese I've ended up with! It is definitely not ricotta, it has a crumbly, grainy texture that is springy and rubbery too....it's just so odd. The especially weird part is that texture was present in my curds even before I added the vinegar, I noticed it during the heating stage and tasted the curds then! I am determined to try again, but since I don't know what went wrong, I'm not sure how to fix it or how to keep from recreating this monster!
~Cheers!
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Offline Nitai

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2010, 04:18:08 PM »
Thats perfectly good cheese. It seems like it is basically paneer, the cheese used in Indian food. If it is still somewhat light and crumbly then it would technically be called chenna. Either way, it is rather flavorless but very versatile.

If it is not too dry (although draining overnight it probably is) you can put it in the food processor with sugar, vanilla, and any other flavorings (saffron and cardamom is good) and blend to a paste. Put that in a buttered pyrex and bake at 225F for 15-20 minutes. Once it cools you cut into cubes and it is fudge-like. It is a traditional sweet called sandesh, I make it all the time. Again, it might not work if the curds are too dry though.

The only reason I could think this happened in the manner you described though would be if the milk was already going "off", in which case it curdles easily. I seem to remember the ricotta I was making last year said to add milk earlier, not sure though.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2010, 04:49:09 PM »
Nitai is correct. Scubagirl, what happened is that your acidity was not high enough, so you coagulated the curd at that low acidity level. Adding vinegar did little because the curds were already formed. So you wound up with heat-precipitated  cheese where the little bit of acid in the whey helped it to precipitate. The whey protein levels may have also been low so you didn't get the foamy cheese curds on top.

Nitai, I love sandesh made with green cardamom garnished with a mint sprig :)
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Offline Nitai

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2010, 05:09:11 PM »
I have adopted a lot of East-meets-West sandesh approaches - Orange rind and cardamom with a chocolate ganache topping. Good stuff :)

Offline scubagirlwonder

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2010, 05:40:25 PM »
Nitai is correct. Scubagirl, what happened is that your acidity was not high enough, so you coagulated the curd at that low acidity level. Adding vinegar did little because the curds were already formed. So you wound up with heat-precipitated  cheese where the little bit of acid in the whey helped it to precipitate. The whey protein levels may have also been low so you didn't get the foamy cheese curds on top.
Thank you both for your imput! Sandesh sounds wonderful-I'll definitely try it sometime! Since this batch is pretty dry I am going to mix it with ricotta (store bought unfortunately) a bit of parmesan and and italian herbs, and stuff it into shell pasta and top with Vodka Sauce...
For future reference, how can I prevent creating heat precipitated or low acidity coagulated curd? I long to make a decent ricotta!!
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2010, 05:47:15 PM »
Scubagirl, the acid needs to work at the proteins slowly to soften them up so that when they come together to make curd, it's not tough, but fluffy. Meaning use whey from cheesemaking where the acid slowly build up, or add vinegar in the beginning to a pH of 5.2, and heat up slowly.

Ricotta is actually a rather difficult affair to pull off. If it's not acidic enough, you get hard rubbery curd. If there aren't enough whey proteins, coagulation is poor. If it gets too acidic, it will come out of solution, but your curds will be like grain, and tough. If you heat too high, you get firmer curds and full yield. If not enough, soft curds, but poor yield. It's kind of like mozz in that regard. That's why, IMHO, mozz whey makes for the best ricotta.
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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2010, 09:46:14 PM »
I agree with Linixboy. I only do riccotta from mozzarella, provalone, romano or other pasta filetta type cheeses. Now that it's summer I use the whey to water my garden or other useful things.

Offline Brentsbox

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2010, 06:36:40 AM »
Now that it's summer I use the whey to water my garden or other useful things.

Ive been very reluctant to use my whey in the garden ever since i dumped a batch left over from making some mozz on a beautiful bay laurel tree i had going.  Within a few days of watering it with the whey it was dead.  I had had it for almost 2 years and it was really doing good until then.  I have wondered if the whey was too acidic and that is what caused it....  im scared to try again on my other garden plants..   your comments are welcome!
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Offline Gardener

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2010, 07:29:46 AM »
  I have wondered if the whey was too acidic and that is what caused it....  im scared to try again on my other garden plants..   your comments are welcome!
You could add it to your compost heap. I add it to my leaf pile, a good source of nitrogen, rots down my leaves over the winter ready for use in the spring. Bit of a bummer having to traipse through the snow, but well worth the extra effort.

Offline MrsKK

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Re: Ricotta Fail...
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2010, 09:26:47 AM »
I use whey to water my garden and houseplants, but dilute it 1:4 with water to prevent problems.