The other day I got in a ricotta cheese making mood and decided to not just figure out the simplest way to make it or the acid to milk ratio you needed, but also what the difference in the fat contents. Here in the states you have 2 generic options of ricotta cheese at stores, whole milk and part-skim milk. Both are meh compared to homemade and some even have added sugar into them… Say what? No wonder we are a nation with a sugar addiction. Anyways, before I digress into that subject, let’s tackle the fat contents.
I set out to make whole milk with heavy cream, all whole milk, whole milk + 2% fat and 2% fat milk. Why not fat free? There needs to be fat solids for the acid to work it’s magic; allowing the milk to curdle. I used the same ratio with all 4 milk fats: 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 4 cups of milk. I would then bring each one up to a soft boil, turn off the heat and add in the vinegar. I would then let it site for 2-3 minutes before scooping into a cheese cloth lined sieve. The next thing was then to let each of them sit for 30 minutes.
The difference was apparent from the start. When the milk fats were curdling with the whole milk/cream mixture and the whole milk, it’ really pulled together.
As you can see above, the curds have formed nicely. Now, in contrast, take a look at what happens with just the 2% milk.
Notice how the curds are struggling to form? They eventually do, but they are small and not nearly as many.
Big difference above. There is about half as much ricotta with the whole fat milk than the 2% fat.
So, what we have learned so far is that the more fat in the milk = more ricotta cheese. What about flavor then? There is definitely a difference.
Whole Milk + Cream = a super rich flavor. So rich that I wouldn’t be a fan of using it in something like the base of a simple pasta dish. It’s a dessert cheese. Something like whipped ricotta with honey and berries or putting into a summer fruit tart with mascarpone cheese. It’s really good and spreads almost like butter…. Which considering the fat content, that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Whole Milk = my favorite. It has a full flavor to it; not light but not heavy. You can taste the richness of the milk without it being over powering. I made a really good pasta and ricotta dish with this one.
Whole Milk + 2% Milk = a pleasant little surprise. It did make a good bit less cheese, but the flavor was still good. Not as full as the whole milk, but not wimpy. If it wasn’t for the fact you have to buy twice as much milk to make the same amount, I’d probably use this one. However, there’s just to much waste and the cost adds up. However, if you really wanted the lighter fat, I think this would be a great cheese to use as a veggie dip of sorts. Add in garlic, minced fresh herbs, lemon zest and you have a fresh, healthy and light dip!
2% Milk = meh. It wasn’t exactly bad but it was one dimensional. It tasted like ricotta, it was better than store bought, but there wasn’t much to it. The only way I would use it would be with lot’s of other seasonings or as a thickening agent instead of butter.
The higher the fat content in the milk, the more ricotta you get.
The higher the fat, the richer the flavor.
The higher the fat, it becomes more spreadable.
The higher the fat, does not necessarily mean the best flavor.
I prefer the whole milk, but the whole milk + 2% milk fat isn’t bad.
The higher the fat, the more color the ricotta cheese has.
Final conclusion, go make some homemade ricotta cheese.