Chef Sam is always looking for new ways to utilize CVap® ovens. Recently, she used them to prepare fresh ricotta cheese. Naturally, the results were divine. The old (Monty Python) adage is true; blessed are the cheesemakers.

A Cheesy History

Ricotta is ancient. That is to say, there’s Bronze Age evidence of its production on the Italian peninsula. In fact, it’s the oldest of the whey cheeses. Whey is a biproduct of other cheese production. To put it another way, it’s a classic example of using a waste product from one process to create something valuable. Historically, ricotta was made with sheep, cow, or buffalo milk. Currently, most ricotta is made from cow’s milk.

Ricotta literally means recooked (from the Italian “ricocotto”). Accordingly, it’s made by coagulating the milk proteins that remain after casein has been depleted by making other cheeses. In contrast to many aged cheeses, ricotta is often served fresh. Naturally, ricotta’s perishable nature makes it a delicacy to enjoy quickly.

milked heated for ricotta

Whey is allowed to sit at room temperature to ferment and acidify when making traditional ricotta. Next, the acidified whey is heated to near-boiling. Consequently, the low pH and high temperatures denature the protein and cause it to flocculate, forming curds. In contrast, Chef Sam bypassed room-temp fermentation. Instead she used chemistry and CVap technology.

Settings

CHV5-05UV Cook and Hold Oven Vapor Temp – Cook 200°F Air Temp – Cook 350°F

Ricotta Recipe

Per Hotel Pan
  • 1 Gallon whole milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 2/3 Cup lemon juice or distilled vinegar (or 1 tsp citric acid)

The Process

  1. Preheat oven.
  2. Pour milk into hotel pans.
  3. Place in oven. 
  4. Remove from oven when milk reaches 200°F.
  5. Add salt and acid (lemon juice, distilled vinegar, or citric acid).
  6. Gently stir together and allow to rest for five to ten minutes. Allow the acid to work and create clumpy curds.
  7. Using a fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth, strain out the curds, leaving the liquid whey behind.
  8. Allow to drain for ten minutes to an hour, depending on desired consistency of finished product.
  9. Transfer finished ricotta to container and refrigerate.

Ricotta has a delicate, slightly sweet flavor. Naturally, this makes it perfect as a component in cheesecake, cannoli, manicotti, and other Italian dishes. Or enjoy it by its simple self. In the end, it’s sinfully good.

cooked curds
ricotta whey into cheesecloth
lemon juice
scooping fresh ricotta