It was pouring out when we drove up to Cherry Grove Farm for our ricotta class, and I experienced a bout of dejavu. Yes, it had rained cats & dogs the last time we came out for a farm to table event! But once again, we didn’t let it rain on our parade.
At least this time we were inside in the cozy farm kitchen, where all of the cooking classes take place.
As I mentioned to Kathy and Niki, our fearless cheese leaders, my first time making ricotta at home was a hot mess (literally). I was so excited: I had purchased some cheesecloth, a gallon of milk and I was ready for my ricotta. When I was done, the whole thing tasted purely of vinegar. It ended up in the garbage.
So it was about time I finally got back on the horse and learned how to make ricotta the right way. Because a life without fresh ricotta is a not worth living.
Niki made it look so simple, and I’m eager to recreate the recipes at home. We had such a wonderful time learning about the farm, sampling raw milk, enjoying a taste of raw brie & havilah, and getting busy in the kitchen making homemade lasagna roll ups.
By the way, this ricotta is nothing like the ricotta at the grocery store. Like, get that picture out of your mind. Niki made this ricotta with Trickling Springs Milk, and it has a luscious texture, not grainy at all. It didn’t even need salt or seasoning (and I put salt on everything). The lasagna roll-ups are definitely being added to my recipe repertoire. In the summer, they will be delicious with cherry tomatoes and diced zucchini. And it looks like I’ll be able to check some more of the recipes off of my ricotta board!
If you’re not familiar with Cherry Grove, then I recommend venturing over to this 400-acre farm in Lawrenceville, NJ. Cherry Grove is one of only three farmstead creameries in the entire state of New Jersey, and we have been enjoying their award-winning cheese for several years now. You may recognize the red label from many farm markets around the state. At any given time, they typically have 8 cheese varieties for sale. Their classics that I enjoy are the buttercup brie and Toma, but I’ve never been known to turn away a Jack or Herdsman!
They also sell their own pork, lamb and beef products at their fantastic in-door market. I go here to stock up every few months, and you may recall my pizza recipe using their spicy merguez lamb sausage. Here’s something pretty cool: since cheesemaking produces a large amount of whey, they feed this protein-rich liquid to their Berkshire and Duroc-cross pigs, who spend their days foraging in the woods and pastures. And their sheep and cows are grass fed in the summer, and enjoy hay during the winter.
I’m excited to return on a nice day and watch the cows graze as we enjoy cheese out by their market with a bottle of wine. Yes, you can do that too! And I would highly encourage it.