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How to make ricotta salata – a simple pressed cheese

How to make ricotta salata – a simple pressed cheese

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This month we’ll cover a simple semi-firm pressed cheese – ricotta salata. This is a great recipe for your first adventures in pressed cheese, since the ricotta is so simple to make and the final product can be made using very basic equipment. You don’t need a cheese press and you don’t even need to cut any curds! To make this cheese you can use the ricotta recipe posted earlier one this site and, if you choose, your handmade mold from last month’s post.

 

As the name implies, ricotta salata is a salty cheese from Italy that uses ricotta as its base. It can be used fresh or aged for an extended time. When it’s young, ricotta salata is similar in taste to a Greek style feta. It works well served in an antipasto, or as a garnish for pasta. Try substituting ricotta salata in any recipe that calls for feta. If you age it long enough it can be used as a grating cheese – sort of a poor man’s parmesan. If you make several at a time, you can sample the cheese at different stages of aging and see which you like best.

 

Like feta (which many of you have probably made) whey is sweated from the pressed ricotta using salt. This helps create a drier cheese while also imparting a salty tang. And, like feta this recipe is pretty forgiving. However, unlike feta it is not cultured and requires no rennet.

 

Supplies
Ricotta – yield from ½ gallon will fill 1 mold
Non-iodized salt
1 or more molds – fresh or ricotta style, or ones you made yourself

 

Instructions
Make ricotta. Use your tried and true recipe or the one previously posted here.
Line mold(s) with a damp cheese cloth. Ladle the curds into the mold(s).
Fold cheese cloth over curds trying to keep it flat as possible. Add follower if you have one. Press at 10lbs for at least 12 hours or overnight, flipping once. Depending on the temperature and humidity in your kitchen you may need to press it at a slightly higher weight or for a longer time for the curds to knit together properly. It’s ready when it is a semi-solid brick.
Generously salt all sides of the cheese and transfer to a storage container and refrigerate (in a cheese cave if possible).  Ideally the cheese should be raised off the bottom of the container so it’s not sitting in the whey, but if you drain the whey off every day it will be fine.
Continue salting, draining and flipping the cheese every other day until you have repeated this 7 times.
Rub off an extra salt and pat dry. Wrap in cheese paper and store in your fridge for the desired length of time.

 

Emily Klie teaches cheese making classes in the Philadelphia suburbs and trained as an apprentice at a farmstead goat dairy in the Hudson Valley. She loves cheese – both as an artisan product and as a homesteading mainstay.

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