Saison Beer Ricotta on Cucumber

Inspired by the Beeroness’ Homemade Beer Ricotta, for a beer potluck get together I decided to make this the third offering of beer cheese. I decided to make three times the amount in her version since I was feeding more and hers yielded ~1 1/4 cups of ricotta at the end. My usual ricotta recipe is with a half gallon of whole milk and pint of buttermilk, and I have never had to throw any away, so I figure more is better (so you’ll see a lot more yield in my photos). In the end, I only needed double of the original recipe to make about 45 slices from 2 cucumbers worth.
Saison Beer Ricotta on Cucumber

I then put the beer ricotta on sliced cucumbers as appetizers. For the beer, I used Portland U-Brew Saison, which was a citrusy addition to the creamy ricotta.

It is important that you don’t use Ultra-Pasteurized milk, because it does not have the important calcium chloride which is needed for coagulation and curds (the pasteurization process removes calcium). Whole milk is better because it will also taste richer, as the flavor of the cheese is related to the amount of butterfat in the milk.

Saison Beer Ricotta on Cucumber Slices

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole milk- use the best and freshest milk you can find
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup Saison beer and also 2 tablespoons of Saison Beer separated for later
  • 3 tablespoons Lemon Juice, or you can use Apple Cider Vinegar or a combination of the two
  • 1 English cucumber
  • ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cheesemaking is 4 main ingredients: milk, heat, acid, and then extras (any additions like herbs or mold, or aging, or handling and atmosphere like pulling it, smoking, etc). So first, the milk and heat. Combine the 3 cups whole milk and the 1 cup cream and 1/3 cup of beer in a non-reactive pot and heat on your stovetop on medium.
    The Beeroness’s version puts the salt in now, but I held off until later to put it directly on the ricotta- your choice. I am accustomed to adding in the extras after the acid step because that’s when it is done with the steps to make a goat cheese chevre.
    making homemade ricotta
  2. Use a thermometer to track when the contents of your pot reaches 190 degrees F, stirring as you watch so avoid scorching, and scrape the bottom as you stir.
  3. As soon as you reach 190 degrees F with your milk/cream, immediately remove the pot from heat and add your acid, which is the apple cider vinegar/lemon juice. This is the acid to start the curdling process. Stir just a little to get the acid throughout your milk/cream, and then let the heat and coagulation process work.
    You will start to see the white chunks (curds) rise to the surface away from the yellowish part (whey). The Beeroness put in the 2 tablespoons of beer at this point, but I held off as I didn’t want to lose the beer in the whey.making homemade ricotta
  4. Next, time to separate the curds and whey. use a cheesecloth over a strainer such as a large sieve or colander over a larger mixing bowl. I happen to have both a large and smaller sieve so I lined the larger one with the cheesecloth folded in half, and used the smaller one to ladle the curd and whey mixture through the sieve as an initial drain of whey. Place the curds into the cheesecloth so that the curds will stick with the cheesecloth and the whey flow below to the bowl.
    This is the part where I added the salt and drizzled the saison, adding a small little bit with every layer as I ladled. Run your wooden spoon along the bottom of your pot to free up any stuck curds partway through the pour, and they may need to be scraped from your smaller sieve ladle.making homemade ricotta making homemade ricotta
  5. You can pull up on the sides of the cheesecloth to drain off any extra liquid, but don’t press on the curds. Gather the edges of the cloth and fasten them into a knot and over the bowl so the whey can continue to drain for at least another 15-20 minutes. The longer you let it drain, the more firm it will be instead of creamy.
  6. You can move to an airtight container and put in the refrigerator if you aren’t going to use immediately, and you should eat it within a few days while it is nice and fresh. Meanwhile, what I did was take my English cucumbers and slice them to about 1/3 inch thick. Remember your yield will be less than pictured because I upped the recipe for more yield.
    Saison Beer Ricotta on Cucumber Saison Beer Ricotta on Cucumber
  7. When the whey had finished draining from the cheese, I just spooned a smear onto each cucumber, and finished with a pinch everywhere of salt and ground pepper
    Saison Beer Ricotta on Cucumber Saison Beer Ricotta on Cucumber

I kept mine simple because I wanted the subtle taste of the saison to still be detected, but this cucumber and ricotta idea can certainly be further elevated by more additions on top, such as herbs or half a cherry tomato, etc! Meanwhile, since I had tripled this recipe, I still had a good leftover portion that I have been eating with pasta for dinner.

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