Friday, March 5, 2010

Homemade Ricotta: Method 1

Next on my list of soft cheese making adventures was Ricotta. I like Ricotta cheese in things, not by it's self like some dessert recipes call for or on top of pancakes which seems to be really popular. I think maybe this one is almost as easy as the Sour Cream I made a few weeks back.
All you need is 1 gallon of whole milk
4 cups of cultured buttermilk
A little salt later on for flavor.

Pour the milk and buttermilk in a large heavy bottomed pot and heat it until it reaches 180 degrees. Don't turn the heat up on high though for this because then you run the risk of burning or scorching the milk and'll have to toss it and start all over.
Check with a thermometer to make sure it hits 180, stir occasionally. The closer the milk gets to 180 the more you'll start to see curds form and float to the top.
Once it hits 180, remove the pot from the heat and DO NOT TOUCH FOR 30 MINUTES. If you stir or mess with it here the curds will have a grainy, thin, not at all appealing texture.

Meanwhile line a colander with a double layer or butter muslin or if you don't have that 3 layers of cheesecloth. Carefully pour or ladle the curds into the colander. This ricotta will make a lot of whey, I'm mean like 12 cups of whey. So make sure your colander is over a large pot if you want to save the whey or if not then simple place your colander in the sink.
Let the curds drain for 1 to 2 hours depending on how dry you like your Ricotta. I went the full 2 hours.
Once it's drained move it to a bowl you can cover and break it up gently with a fork or large spoon. Add some salt to taste. You can use it immediately or store in an air tight container for up to a week. I ended up actually sneaking a few bites of some of this as it was still warm before it was completely drained....what a difference. This method of Ricotta I might would eat just by it's self.
I set back 6 cups of whey from this batch for some recipes I found that actually called for whey. You can freeze whey just like you can milk for up to 6 months or keep it in the fridge for a few months at most.
Method 2 for Ricotta cheese calls for milk, white vinegar and salt. It takes longer for the curds to form and is suppose to have a tangy flavor due to the vinegar. The next time I make Ricotta I'm going to try Method 2.

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