Making Ricotta with Corinne
Making cheese, even a very simple cheese like this ricotta, takes time and patience and a gallon of milk. From that, a couple of hours, and a lot of stirring and waiting you get 4 tubs of ricotta. So….while away the hours with friends. Gather a group and while the milk slowly comes to a heats, you talk, and check the pot, and snack, and check the pot, and drink, and check the pot. At then end of the day, you have enjoyed a day with friends and everyone goes home with a tub of ricotta!
We used a gallon of organic milk. Pour the milk in a pot. Attach the thermometer and over a medium heat, bring the milk to 200 degrees. This takes a while and the milk should be stirred on a regular basis. This is where friends come in. Everyone takes a turn stirring.
Once the milk has reached 200 degrees, turn off the heat and add your acid. This can be fresh lemon juice, vinegar or (as in our case) citric acid. Citric acid comes in a powder form and can easily be ordered online. It is used in many types of cheese making, so Corinne had a bag on hand. At this point you can add salt if you choose. Give it a stir and then let it be. The mixture will settle into curds and whey (yep just like what Little Miss Muffet was eating on her tuffet).
After 10 minutes you can check it with a slotted spoon to see how your curds are doing. If you are satisfied with the mixture, you then strain it.
Line a colander with two layers of cheese cloth, and sit the colander over a pot or mixing bowl. Pour some of the mixture in and let it drain slightly, you may find that you want to spoon the rest in with a slotted spoon. As the whey (the liquid) fills the pot, you can pour it off into another container. You have probably heard of Whey Protein Powder which many people use in protein smoothies. Well you can use this whey there also. If it is salted whey you can use it to make a stock, or in place of water or milk when you are baking. It is also perfect for making fermented foods. You add whey instead of salt and it speeds up the fermentation process! We had adventurous people tasting glasses of whey in the kitchen. Some liked it, some not so much. Our friend Paris, mixed in a little honey and everyone found that to be tasty!
Farm Curious has a great article on what to do with this whey https://www.farmcurious.com/blogs/farmcurious/17599408-cheesemaking-what-to-do-with-all-that-whey
When you are draining they typically tell you to drain for 30 minutes. You can tie your cheese cloth bundle to a spoon hanging over a pot to finish draining. Keep in mind your climate. We are in Vegas and it is hot and dry so Corinne suggested not draining so long. Less draining gives you a creamier cheese, more draining a drier cheese, so it depends on if you want spreadable or crumblable cheese. Keep an eye on it when it is draining and remember that refrigeration will firm the cheese up some also. And if you drain it to much? Just stir in a little of the leftover whey to soften it up!
The recipe (we doubled this)
Equipment to have on hand
4 quart pot
A slotted spoon
An instant read thermometer (or a candy thermometer)
Use it or tuck it in a container in the fridge!
A half gallon will make 2 containers of ricotta. A gallon makes 4. You can keep the ricotta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
And… you can make this with goat or sheep milk also.
Note: If you use UTH (ultra high temperature) pasteurized milk, you may have trouble with your curds separating, because the pasteurization process changes the protein structure of the milk.
You can also take this a step further and make a farmers cheese. This is a little drier and you press it in the refrigerator over night. Corinne found cheese molds online and then saw some of those reusable baskets for coffee makers? They work just fine. Line it with cheese cloth, put your ricotta in and find a jar that fits on top to weigh it down, pop it in the fridge overnight and the next day you will have a great farmers cheese to crumble on salads etc!