I can't get the memory of the taste of sheep's milk ricotta out of my mind since returning from Sicily in November. I've had ricotta, the conventional cow's milk stuff, countless times. But sheep's milk? Only that once. It was at an open air market and the vendor scooped a huge cloud of it into a plastic tub; a little fell onto the counter and he picked it up, gloveless, and scraped it back into the tub. He also gave me a generous sampling before I paid. I've asked around; even the encyclopedic Formaggio Kitchen doesn't carry it. So I decided I may have to learn to make it myself.
It was a class of 10 this chilly Sunday afternoon: a mother and her two young daughters; several middle-age women; a man with a professor's voice; a french chef and owner of La Provence in Concord, MA; his wife; and me. Our Cheese Whiz, instructor Jaya Karlson, had various pots and vials and bowls and potions assembled in front of her and started in on her wizardry. She explained that the term "fresh cheese" is used to distinguish the cheese from an aged cheese (although even fresh cheeses take some aging to bring out the best flavor). There's an excellent listing and description of fresh cheeses at The Cook's Thesaurus
She poured a gallon of organic, whole milk into a stainless steel pot, added a little citric acid, heated it up, slowly, carefully, added rennet, perfectly measured and waited.
And right before our eyes the milk in the pot began to form soft billowy curds, separate from the whey and become fresh cheese. Look appetizing?
Jaya gave us a hand-out with step-by-step instructions. She also teaches the next level up from this basic one. In the summer, Jaya runs a B & B in Wellfleet, way out at the tip of Cape Cod. If you contact her there, I'm sure she'll let you know when her next class will be.