If you’ve never made ricotta at home you’re missing out. We all deserve to know firsthand that freshly made cheese is one of life’s simplest joys. And once you see how easy it is to make ricotta from scratch, you can easily add it to your weekly kitchen routine. Fresh cheeses usually last anywhere from one to two weeks, so if you end up making a large batch and are not sure if you can eat the whole amount during the week, there is a method for preserving the cheese for longer.
Salt is the main preservative ingredient in cheese, and also acts to control the rate of fermentation of the cheese curd. Pressing the curd into a wheel compacts the fats and the proteins and releases the excess water that typically promotes premature spoilage. By salting and pressing your leftover ricotta, you can easily have a wheel of house made ricotta salata that will keep in your fridge for up to a month’s time!
Ricotta Salata Recipe
After you've mastered how to make ricotta at home, it's now time to try your hand at a homemade Ricotta Salata recipe. Fresh ricotta is drained, salted, and pressed into a wheel and then aged in the refrigerator for one week, ideally in a Cheese Grotto. This is a great recipe for an introduction to cheesemaking.
2 pounds ricotta, fresh
4 teaspoons salt, no iodine
Cheesecloth, or Butter muslin
2 pound weight, like two 16 oz jars, stacked on a plate, or a brick on a plate
Mix the fresh curds with the salt in a bowl. Be gentle but thorough.
Place all the curd in a cheesecloth or butter muslin lined ricotta basket. Fold the ends of the butter muslin over the top of the ricotta so it is fully covered. Leave to stand for 1 hour at room temperature with the weight on top.
Unmold cheese. Turn upside down. Rewrap. Put back in mold. Press for 12 hours.
Unmold cheese. Lightly rub outside of cheese, on all sides, with cheese salt. Cover and place in fridge.
Once each day, lightly salt the outside of the cheese and turn it upside down. I ended up putting the cheese inside of a salad spinner so that it could drain. Not a lot of fluid comes out, but enough to make the bottom moist.
Continue salting and turning for 7 days. On day 7, coat with paprika on all sides (optional).
Age for 2-4 weeks, turning every few days.
If any mold appears, use moist cheesecloth, dipped in salt water to gently remove.