Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ricotta cheese

I am very proud of myself today.

Back up a couple days ago, I opened our last jug of raw cow's milk. I noticed it was trying to separate, but smelled fine, so I shook it up and poured a glass. I enjoyed it, but my son felt it didn't taste right.

I really didn't want to waste the price we paid for raw milk, so I asked everyone to please not throw it away. I told them I could still cook with it, but secretly, I had other plans.

The next night I planned to make fried chicken, so I used the rest of my sons milk to soak the chicken in. Normally, I soak it in buttermilk, but I was out. Instead, after the milk soak, I breaded it in buttermilk baking mix. The coating was a bit heavy, but delicious.

Today when I got home from my morning shift, I put my plan into action. I poured the rest of the gallon of milk into a pot and started to heat it up. Then I went to the computer to find the instructions I had seen for whole milk ricotta. (Yeah, I do things a bit backwards sometimes)

I just needed to remind myself of the temperature to heat it to: 190 - 195 F. So I went back to my pot and stirred and checked the temp periodically. As it approached 180, I noticed it began to thicken. By the time it got to 190, it was already clumping into beautiful curds. I turned off the heat and added 4 teaspoons of lemon juice.

I was so excited to see these fluffy white curds swirling around the yellow whey. It told me it was working. In my excitement, I forgot the salt. Next time I will put it in ahead of the lemon juice I think. I did sprinkle some salt over the curds and whey before straining it. I lined my strainer with 4 layers of cheesecloth and set it in a bowl. Which, actually, turned out to be too shallow. So I used my crock pot instead. I poured the curds and whey slowly into the lined strainer, letting the crock pot catch the whey below.

Then I tied the corners of the cheese cloth together and suspended it over yet another bowl. I let it drip for about an hour.

While it was dripping, I poured the whey into some milk bottles. I ended up with about 2 1/2 quarts of whey. This makes it easier to store for use later.

This little experiment made nearly 2 cups of ricotta. I tasted a bit before I put it in the jar. It was good, but then I tried another bit with a sprinkling of salt. SO good! Now I just have to find that recipe for Rachel's Not-Zagne!

Here is the recipe I used if you would like to make ricotta at home: