does the kind (brand?) of milk matter when making ricotta?

I made ricotta using The Farmer's Cow (from local Connecticut farms) milk and cream a few weeks ago (Barefoot Contessa recipe) and it was great. Then I made it with Hood milk and cream and it did not separate as well and was much fattier -- slippery and not the loose, soft curds I was expecting. I used the same vinegar both times (Trader Joe's white wine vinegar). Any ideas?



susaneas March 16, 2011
Thank you for the feedback -- I had never heard about fat removal/replacement that usuba dashi explained -- sounds awful and worth research to be sure it never comes near my fridge.
And yes, I have tried ricotta with skim, and even 1%, milk and it was rubbery, NOT worth the trouble to make or to eat.
It may be I had a problem with the level of pasteurization, and since it worked before, I will be sure to stick with the Farmer's Cow milk.
usuba D. March 16, 2011
Not all milk is created equal in the USA. At some commercial milk plants, the fat is immediately removed from the delivered milk for butter production. This leaves them with skim milk. To create the 1%, 2%, whole milk, etc, they can use milk powder/whey powder to bring the fat content back up to the percentage of fat they need. . . . and they do not have to label it as such by USDA standards. This is why some milk tastes chalky. This will also be another reason ricotta can fail. I know of no organic milk production that follows these practices
fiveandspice March 16, 2011
I second what littleknitter says. The level of pasteurization matters, even in making ricotta. The less pasteurized the better. Unfortunately most organic milks are ultrapasteurized, while many non-organic are just pasteurized, so often the non organic versions work better. But, it should say right on the label the level of pasteurization. And, I also agree that skim milk yields weird rubbery curds (they remind me of pencil erasers).
littleknitter March 16, 2011
Yes. Many brands of milk in the US have been ultrapasteurized which cause the whey proteins to break down. With ricotta, it's a little less of a problem, but if you are making other types of cheeses then it matters more. Also, I wouldn't recommend using skim milk for ricotta - it came out rubbery and bouncy whereas whole milk made soft and pillowy ricotta. For a better explanation of the science behind milk, see here:
Here is a list of good milks to use in cheesemaking:
Hope this helps!
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