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CHEESE TYPE BOARDS (for Cheese Lovers and Cheese Makers) => SECONDARY COAGULATION (Usually Recooked) - Primarily Whey Based => Topic started by: dayflowr on October 03, 2010, 07:23:09 PM

Title: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: dayflowr on October 03, 2010, 07:23:09 PM
I don't understand what I am doing wrong. I have tried making ricotta numerous times, and the only partially successful try was when I made mozzarella and I ended up with about 2 tablespoons.  I tried again today after making cheddar. I used the whey right away (about 8 quarts), didn't let it sit around. Heated it to 195, added 1/4 cup vinegar. Nothing. Continued heating to 205. Added another 1/4 cup of vinegar. Got a small amount of ricotta lining my cheesecloth. Using very find cheesecloth so it is not an issue of it going through. What in the world am I doing wrong?
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: MrsKK on October 03, 2010, 09:15:53 PM
Although most books I read say that the whey must be very fresh, I have had better results in making ricotta the day after I make the other cheese.  My best yields come from cultured mozzarella (I've not had any luck at all with making ricotta from 30-minute mozz) and I don't use vinegar to precipitate the ricotta, just heat.  When the whey reaches about 207-210 degrees, I take it off the heat, as the ricotta "clouds" are starting to form.

Other than your whey being very fresh (you should still get SOME ricotta from it), the other thing I notice is that your temps are a bit lower than what I aim for.  Ricotta really does precipitate at just below the boil.

Have you checked your thermometer to see if it is properly calibrated?  If it is measuring high, that could be your issue too.

Best of luck!
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: clherestian on October 04, 2010, 07:42:49 AM
For me, it is about getting the right acidity along with the right temp. If I were you, I wouldn't add a certain amount of vinegar just because a recipe calls for it. The recipes assume a certain whey acidity level, and yours might be different. It helps if you know how acidic your whey is to start with.

First off, it is way easier if you add some milk to the whey. Heat your liquid and hold it for a minute. If you don't have any precipitation, add about half the amount of acid that your recipe calls for. Wait for a minute and check if you have precipitation. If not, slowly add more acid till you see curds precipitating. Sometimes if you add too much acid, you will see your curds sink to the bottom instead of floating. 

Ricotta made from different cheeses will require different amount of acid. Also, if you let the whey sit around, it will require different amounts of acid. To start with, try making ricotta with whey from the same cheese. recod everything you do till you get a feel for how much acid you need.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: DeejayDebi on October 04, 2010, 10:42:09 PM
The best yields come from pasta fileta type cheeses and romano, which is where riccotta originally came from. Not all cheese whey has enough proteins left to waste your time on.

As with Mrs KK I never make it the same night as the first cheese. Wait at least over night.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: ConnieG on October 05, 2010, 08:59:25 AM
This is helpful.  The last time I made Ricotta I added a half gal of milk to about 3 gal of whey thinking I wanted a nice yield for cooking.  Well the curds matted and fell to the bottom of the pot in a mass.  It was a tasty fresh cheese but not anything useful.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: clherestian on October 05, 2010, 10:18:06 AM
If they matted together and fell to the bottom, then I would guess you added to much acid. The right amount of acid will yield a sweeter, lighter curd that floats.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: ConnieG on October 05, 2010, 10:28:58 AM
Yes, I added the vinegar per the recipe but I'm thinking that even though I can't afford the PH meter for a while I at least need to use the paper strips and add the vinegar slowly.  I have also been unhappy with the vinegar taste to the ricotta recipes - even thought my recipe says you won't be able to taste vinegar I find the flavor overpowering.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: clherestian on October 05, 2010, 01:10:35 PM
You shouldn't need ph strips. You can just watch it and see when it precipitates. it will look like a white cloud forming.

If you don't like vinegar, you can use citric acid or lemon juice.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: Ken on October 05, 2010, 03:26:04 PM
Whenever I make ricotta I have had great results from UHT (Ultra high treated) milk. I have had litttle resuts from whey.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: dayflowr on October 10, 2010, 09:54:13 AM
Thanks for the input. I generally try it first without vinegar and then heat it a bit more if nothing happens before adding vinegar. Does the kind of milk make a difference?  I'm using goat milk.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: Susan on October 10, 2010, 04:22:29 PM
I also struggle with ricotta.  I have never used vinegar.  But just heated the whey.  When it seems like nothing will happen, at just over 200 degrees I get that 'white cloud'.  The tricky part is straining it out of the whey.  The 'curds' are so tiny and grainy they clog up a cloth.  I scoop them off the top with a ladel and put that in a gold coffee filter to let it drain.  That seems to work fine. but it fills up fast.  Does anyone have a good method of straining ricotta?
Susan
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: MrsKK on October 10, 2010, 06:59:08 PM
I use a slightly coarse weave fabric (not too coarse or the ricotta all runs through it!) inside of a colander.  Every hour or so, I scrape down the inside of the fabric to loosen up what has collected on the cloth.  I also lift up the corners of the cloth, as sometimes they "seal" themselves to the colander.

After the liquid had drained out enough that I can tie the corners of the fabric without any of the whey/curds spilling over, I tie the cloth over a barbecue fork (about the only thing long enough to span my colander), tying the diagonal corners to each other.  It seems to drain better that way, too.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: ancksunamun on October 10, 2010, 09:57:23 PM
I have had no problems with making Ricotta and always get a pretty good yield from just the whey.

I bring my pot up to 95 degrees celcius and once I get a foam on the top I drop in 40mls of vinegar (roughly) and a tablespoon of salt. I let it boil up until all the ricotta comes to the top and then use a metal mesh sieve to scoop it all out into a cheesecloth lined bowl.

I then knot the cloth up and hang it to drain for about half an hour. Perfect ricotta!
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: Tar on October 27, 2010, 05:45:59 AM
.....................
Not all cheese whey has enough proteins left to waste your time on.
As with Mrs KK I never make it the same night as the first cheese. Wait at least over night.
This is obviously true.  It may also depends on the  milk and protein type in the milk.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: motochef on October 27, 2010, 10:02:13 PM
My instructor taught me to add the vinegar and the salt at the start of the heating process. We did both with whole milk and whey. The whey was not as good as the whole milk both in taste and yield. The whey was form raw milk. I'm going to use my whey for the garden. They whole milk stuff is just too good!

  Here is how I make mine
1 Gal of whole Milk or Whey
2.5 ounces of white vinegar
Palm full of Kosher salt

High direct heat to 190 stirring often and shut off and let sit for 20-30 minutes . You can double this.. 
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: Susan on October 28, 2010, 05:33:00 AM
What would be the difference between using white vinegar and cider vinegar?  And it seems different to add the salt at the beginning rather than in the finished product.  Don't you lose much of it in the whey?  Or is it somehow incorporated better this way?  I have made it just bringing the whey to near boiling temp but not adding vinegar.  Maybe my yield would have been better.  I guess there is an ideal pH for ricotta and would depend on your whey.  I need a meter!
Susan
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: Sailor Con Queso on October 28, 2010, 09:34:58 AM
Susan,

Making Ricotta is all about pH. If the whey left over from your cheese make is acidic enough, you don't need to use any vinegar. Or you may need to use just a little. With whole milk only, you will need to use much more. I find that when you over acidify, the curds sink instead of floating to the top. And the Ricotta has a sharper, unpleasant taste. It is not as light and fluffy.

Some books tell you that you have to use the whey within a couple of hours. Nonsense. Many people find that they get better results if they let the whey sit overnight. That's probably because the starter bacteria have produced more acid naturally.

Either vinegar is fine or you can use lemon juice or citric acid. I don't salt my Ricotta at all. I prefer to salt during cooking according to whatever recipe we are doing.

Meters definitely help understand what's going on. If you don't have one, just heat up to just under boiling. Do NOT let it get to a rolling boil. Hold for about 10 minutes and cut off the heat. Wait about 20 minutes and see what happens. If Ricotta floats up, leave it alone. If not, add a LITTLE vinegar. Wait a few minutes. Add more as necessary without overdoing it. It doesn't make sense to add vinegar in the beginning before you know what's going on.

I always add a little whole milk to increase my yield.

Unfortunately, the recipe books don't tell you this stuff and can be very misleading.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: Susan on October 28, 2010, 10:17:48 AM
Sailor,
Thanks for the helpful tips.  Shopping now for a pH meter.  I always get SOME ricotta so maybe pH is fine.  But wondering if I add more acid (vinegar or whatever) that yield may be higher.  I have this in my head based on my Queso Blanco experience.  After adding vinegar got SOME cheese but whey still milky.  So later added more vinegar and got even more cheese.  So will this happen with ricotta too?  And thank for clearing up the timing of the whey.  I have read both that it must be used immediately, within 3 hours.  And that it should sit overnight.  Again, a pH meter would help sounds like.
Susan
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: motochef on October 28, 2010, 09:29:52 PM
What would be the difference between using white vinegar and cider vinegar?  And it seems different to add the salt at the beginning rather than in the finished product.  Don't you lose much of it in the whey?  Or is it somehow incorporated better this way?  I have made it just bringing the whey to near boiling temp but not adding vinegar.  Maybe my yield would have been better.  I guess there is an ideal pH for ricotta and would depend on your whey.  I need a meter!
Susan


I learned that the vinegar you use comes out in the whey and not the cheese.. White is the cheapest by me so that's what I use. I wonder if your just getting such a good yield that there's nothing left! I just did a Goat Cheese Ricotta from pasteurized milk.

(http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs459.ash2/73255_1694279121864_1384395745_1866726_7869708_n.jpg)
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: Susan on October 29, 2010, 06:43:46 AM
Beautiful ricotta!  I can see that my ricotta would have gone right through the holes in that basket.  The grains were VERY fine.  They even went right through a sieve.  Makes it very hard to handle.  I was able to capture them in the gold coffee filter but drains very slowly.  I wonder what the difference is.  I was using mozarella (citric method) whey and no vinegar.  Just heating.
Susan
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: motochef on October 30, 2010, 12:09:22 AM
I did this with pasteurized goats milk (not ultra). When we did the ricotta from whey in the class it was from mozzarella that was made with a starter and  rennet. The process takes hours but I wounder if the citric acid method has something to do with it? By far the best results have been with whole milk or goats milk. The goats milk is very creamy and smooth vs the whole that is also creamy but the curds are a bit firmer. If I have a chance I may send Larry @ Three Shepherds a line about your issue.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: Susan on October 30, 2010, 06:47:32 AM
Thanks motochef.  Would be interested to hear what they say.  In the meantime I will try it both with different whey and also adding some whole milk and see what that does.  It may be a little while.  I thought I was all ready to go making lots of fun cheeses because I bought a dedicated refrigerator.  But it is in the garage.  Now that it is getting cold, how will it stay at 50 degrees?  I'll have to either bring it in the basement or get a smaller one for inside.  Always something!
Susan
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: MrsKK on October 30, 2010, 08:46:18 AM
I think that the citric acid method just doesn't leave enough protein in the whey for you to get the big fluffy clouds of ricotta that give the better results.

If you get a chance to try it with whey from cultured cheese, I think you'll be much more pleased with the results.
Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: motochef on November 02, 2010, 08:05:00 PM
dayflowr,

Here is what Larry came back with from Three Shepherds in Vermont about your issue. I forgot to tell him that you had very tiny curds so I sent him your first post on this thread today. Here is what he said so far:

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the link to the forum.  It is true that some cheesemakers are very reliant on acidity measurement (TA and/or pH).  As we mentioned, it definitely can be an aid for gaining insight on the biochemistry of the process, and for some cheeses (e.g., mozzarella), it can help a lot with knowing exactly when a critical step needs to occur (stretching at pH 5.3). 

Both Linda and I have had many years of lab experience, and understand the value of getting precise measurements.  However, we learned cheesemaking from Europeans who take a sensory approach to cheesemaking.  Using your eyes, olfactory sense, taste, and feel can also give tremendous insight into the process as well.  We are not trying to say that one way is right and will make better cheese--but it is interesting to note that on our 1997 trip to Europe, only one out of 28 cheesemakers measured acidity with lab devices.  And we have consulted with many, many farms who have had major issues with expensive pH meters, so the strips end up being a better investment.

As far as the ricotta, whenever we make mozzarella I always make ricotta from the whey, and it works extremely reliably.  However, we have never made mozzarella using citric acid.  I do know that when we have tried making ricotta from whey that is very acidic (below pH 4.7) it can be very tricky to make ricotta from it.  So perhaps the citric acid is playing a roll.  It would be helpful to know what your friend is observing and what procedure he is using.  Just let us know.

When is your wife coming to Vermont?  It would be great to see her (and you) again.

Keep us updated on your progress.

Best wishes,

Larry and Linda

Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: motochef on November 07, 2010, 08:27:17 PM
I asked Dr.Larry a follow up about dayflowr's Ricotta issue and PH meters vs the test strips here is what he said:


Hi Robert,

Thanks for the link to the forum.  It is true that some cheese makers are very reliant on acidity measurement (TA and/or pH).  As we mentioned, it definitely can be an aid for gaining insight on the biochemistry of the process, and for some cheeses (e.g., mozzarella), it can help a lot with knowing exactly when a critical step needs to occur (stretching at pH 5.3). 

Both Linda and I have had many years of lab experience, and understand the value of getting precise measurements.  However, we learned cheesemaking from Europeans who take a sensory approach to cheesemaking.  Using your eyes, olfactory sense, taste, and feel can also give tremendous insight into the process as well.  We are not trying to say that one way is right and will make better cheese--but it is interesting to note that on our 1997 trip to Europe, only one out of 28 cheesemakers measured acidity with lab devices.  And we have consulted with many, many farms who have had major issues with expensive pH meters, so the strips end up being a better investment.

As far as the ricotta, whenever we make mozzarella I always make ricotta from the whey, and it works extremely reliably.  However, we have never made mozzarella using citric acid.  I do know that when we have tried making ricotta from whey that is very acidic (below pH 4.7) it can be very tricky to make ricotta from it.  So perhaps the citric acid is playing a roll.  It would be helpful to know what your friend is observing and what procedure he is using.  Just let us know.

When is your wife coming to Vermont?  It would be great to see her (and you) again.

Keep us updated on your progress.

Best wishes,

Larry and Linda


Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep from Chelsea Green Publishing Website: http://www.chelseagreen.com/2006/items/madsheep (http://www.chelseagreen.com/2006/items/madsheep) Dr. Larry and Linda Faillace Three Shepherds of the Mad River Valley 108 Roxbury Mountain Road Warren, VT 05674 Tel: 802-496-3998 www.threeshepherdscheese.com (http://www.threeshepherdscheese.com)

Title: Re: ricotta NEVER works
Post by: fiddletree on January 07, 2011, 09:08:41 AM
My ph meter just arrived in the mail today (yippie!), but I am having a hard time finding in any of my books what the acidity should be of various fresh cheeses.  I have made ricotta a few times... when I made it after mozz, it was perfect, and other times it didn't form or was rubbery, which I assume is a ph problem.

I see in the post above that I don't want the acidity below 4.7, but what should it be? What is too high? Is it important to have it just within a certain range, or at a very specific ph?

Thanks!