Ricotta is a light, fresh Italian curd cheese with a delicate, creamy flavour that makes it perfect for use in both savoury and sweet dishes. It marries well with salty cured hams, fresh figs and honey. From classic spinach and ricotta ravioli, ricotta salads, to desserts such as cannoli and Neapolitan pastiera, ricotta is the key ingredient.
Traditionally made from leftover whey, Ricotta is a by-product of making other Italian cheeses, such as Pecorino. Substitute the leftover whey with milk and you can make it easily at home with just two ingredients, milk and acid. If you wish you can also add your own flavourings, like salt or herbs. First heat the milk, then add the vinegar and cook the mixture until the curds separate. All that’s left to do is collect the curds and strain them through a muslin cloth.
Making fresh ricotta in a water bath is uncomplicated and mess-free and will produce reliable and consistent results. Rather than a vacuum sealer this method requires a food-grade zip lock bag. Called the Archimedes principle, the bag is submerged in the water bath until the pressure from the water expels all the air and then the bag is sealed. The ricotta is best eaten on the day you make it, but will keep for up to a week if refrigerated.
How to make ricotta sous vide
- 1 and 1⁄2 tbsp. salt
- 125 ml white wine vinegar (or distilled malt vinegar)
- 2 litres of whole ewe’s milk (cow’s or goat’s will also work)
- Make sure the water bath is filled with clean, cold water. Set the temperature to 78°C.
- Carefully pour the milk into a food-grade zip lock bag and then add in the salt.
- When the bath has reached temperature carefully lower the zip lock bag into the water bath. Make sure no water gets into the bag and that no milk leaks out. The air inside the bag will be expelled by the pressure of the water, the Archimedes principle. Seal the bag when all the air is expelled.
- Ensure the milk is left in the water bath for 30 minutes before you open the bag and add the vinegar.
- Reseal the bag, using the Archimedes principle, and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Take a sieve and line it with a few layers of muslin cloth. Place it over a large bowl.
- Gather the curds that have formed in the zip lock bag, using a slotted spoon, and transfer them to the sieve.
- Strain the curds in the cloth lined sieve cloth for a hour. Tie up the muslin and squeeze the rest of the liquid through. Put to one side for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Once fully drained, take the cheese out of the muslin, transfer to a bowl and serve.