Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ricotta Cheese

I'm a little slow on the cheesemaking. It's kind of ridiculous. I have everything I need to do most of the recipes in the book Home Dairy, but something keeps me from trying it. I think it's because this is a whole new realm for me. And well, to be perfectly honest, I thought only hippies made their own cheese. (Sorry) Whatever. Homemade dairy is good, and I hope I have a dairy cow of my own someday.

Tonight I made ricotta for the first time ever. I was doubtful. I was actually pretty sure it wasn't going to work because my attempts at mozzarella were just plain embarrassing. But my ricotta worked and it tasted so unbelievably amazing that I'm not sure if I will stomach commercial ricotta again.

I followed the exact recipe in Ashley English's book Home Dairy. I didn't get the yield of 1 pound that the book boasts, but we got a decent amount.

Here's what I used:
8 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon of calcium chloride, mixed with 1/4 cup cold sterilized water. *
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
dairy thermometer
large saucepan
cheese cloth

*you can get calcium chloride online or at cheesemaking/wine & beer brewing shops. If you are local I recommend Grape & Granary.*

Here's what I did:
Mix milk, cream & lemon juice in a large saucepan with a metal spoon. Warm directly over medium-high heat until you reach 170 degrees. I only stirred the mixture once to keep it from sticking.
Then I added my calcium chloride/cold water mixture and gave it a little stir. I kept the pan over heat during this step and then just kept my eye on the thermometer until it reached 195 degrees. I had to adjust my heat a few times to keep it from boiling.

Once it hit 195 degrees I removed my pan from the heat and it continued to rise to 200 degrees. Then I just let the pan sit there and rest while I made dinner.

After about 20 minutes I spooned the curds into a colander that I lined with a double-layer of cheese cloth and I let the mixture sit for another 15 - 20 minutes or so.

That's it.

I used a dollop on dinner and it went from meh... to ohmygoodness!

Dinner was Fettucini with pan-fried Tilapia and some veggies (2 carrots, 6 mushrooms, 1 Cup Kale, 2 Cup Spinach, 2 Cloves Garlic sauteed).


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