KIDDOCJJ
KIDDOCJJ
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CHEESE, PLEASE!

WHOLE MILK RICOTTA

 WHOLE MILK RICOTTA - one of the easiest cheeses to make at home!  It just requires good milk (the best you can afford), a touch of cream, a source of acid (citric acid, lemon juice, vinegar, tartaric acid), and a good kitchen thermometer to keep the chemistry in tow. It's fun AND delicious!  The nice thing too, is you can regulate just how soft or firm your cheese ends up. Can't do that at the market!  RECIPE from  ARTISAN CHEESE MAKING AT HOME  by Mary Karlin.  The recipe below makes 2 pint sized cheeses, each weighing about 12 ounces.

WHOLE MILK RICOTTA - one of the easiest cheeses to make at home!  It just requires good milk (the best you can afford), a touch of cream, a source of acid (citric acid, lemon juice, vinegar, tartaric acid), and a good kitchen thermometer to keep the chemistry in tow. It's fun AND delicious!  The nice thing too, is you can regulate just how soft or firm your cheese ends up. Can't do that at the market!  RECIPE from ARTISAN CHEESE MAKING AT HOME by Mary Karlin.  The recipe below makes 2 pint sized cheeses, each weighing about 12 ounces.

  INGREDIENTS   -  1 gallon pasteurized or raw whole cow's milk (make sure it's NOT homogenized)  -  1/2 cup heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized or homogenized)  -  1 tsp  citric acid  powder  -  2 tsp kosher salt (author recommends Diamond Crystal)

INGREDIENTS

-  1 gallon pasteurized or raw whole cow's milk (make sure it's NOT homogenized)

-  1/2 cup heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized or homogenized)

-  1 tsp citric acid powder

-  2 tsp kosher salt (author recommends Diamond Crystal)

  WHAT YOU NEED   -  6-8 quart stockpot with lid  -  kitchen thermometer  -  rubber spatula  -  long handled mesh skimmer/spider (to gently lift and drain curds)  -  a pint sized container with drainage holes, lined with a single layer of cheesecloth or muslin (see above)

WHAT YOU NEED

-  6-8 quart stockpot with lid

-  kitchen thermometer

-  rubber spatula

-  long handled mesh skimmer/spider (to gently lift and drain curds)

-  a pint sized container with drainage holes, lined with a single layer of cheesecloth or muslin (see above)

 -  a bucket or bowl lined with a  nut milk bag  (see above, this is by far the easiest way to drain cheese AND washes quickly and easily).   Alternately, a fine mesh strainer lined with a large square made from 2 layers of tightly woven damp butter muslin or 3 layers of cheesecloth  -  something to weigh down the cheese - I used a pint container filled with pie weights.  You can do the same with rice, water or anything weighing about 2 pounds.

-  a bucket or bowl lined with a nut milk bag (see above, this is by far the easiest way to drain cheese AND washes quickly and easily).   Alternately, a fine mesh strainer lined with a large square made from 2 layers of tightly woven damp butter muslin or 3 layers of cheesecloth

-  something to weigh down the cheese - I used a pint container filled with pie weights.  You can do the same with rice, water or anything weighing about 2 pounds.

  INSTRUCTIONS   1.  Combine the milk, cream, citric acid and 1 tsp of the salt in your stockpot.  Whisk to combine.  2.  Slowly bring up to 185-195 over low heat (will take about 20 minutes), stirring periodically with the spatula.  3. When the curds and whey start to form, you'll see greenish/yellow marks across the surface (see above).  Take the pot off the heat, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Do not disturb the curds by stirring, poking or agitating!

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Combine the milk, cream, citric acid and 1 tsp of the salt in your stockpot.  Whisk to combine.

2.  Slowly bring up to 185-195 over low heat (will take about 20 minutes), stirring periodically with the spatula.

3. When the curds and whey start to form, you'll see greenish/yellow marks across the surface (see above).  Take the pot off the heat, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Do not disturb the curds by stirring, poking or agitating!

 4.  After 10 minutes gently lift out the curds from the whey and put into your strainer or nut milk bag.    5.  Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of salt, and gently turn the curds over a couple of times to incorporate.

4.  After 10 minutes gently lift out the curds from the whey and put into your strainer or nut milk bag.  

5.  Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of salt, and gently turn the curds over a couple of times to incorporate.

 6.  If using a nut milk bag, suspend your curds over a clean container until the whey output slows to a few drips - wait longer if you want a firmer ricotta.  If using cheesecloth or butter muslin to strain, gather up the corners and tie into a knot.  Take a length of twine or string, run it under the knot, and hang the whole business over a clean vessel.

6.  If using a nut milk bag, suspend your curds over a clean container until the whey output slows to a few drips - wait longer if you want a firmer ricotta.  If using cheesecloth or butter muslin to strain, gather up the corners and tie into a knot.  Take a length of twine or string, run it under the knot, and hang the whole business over a clean vessel.

 7.  If you like wetter ricotta, you can transfer the cheese directly to a glass or clean plastic container.  Best to consume within a few days to a week.  8.  If you want drier cheese, transfer the curds to a "holey" container lined with damp cheesecloth.  Bring the ends up and over to cover the cheese.

7.  If you like wetter ricotta, you can transfer the cheese directly to a glass or clean plastic container.  Best to consume within a few days to a week.

8.  If you want drier cheese, transfer the curds to a "holey" container lined with damp cheesecloth.  Bring the ends up and over to cover the cheese.

 9.  Weigh down the ricotta as above (you can use weights, as I did, water, rice, even a pint jar filled with coins), and make sure you have a larger pan beneath to catch more whey.  Refrigerate, and unmold when ready to present.  10.  Drier ricotta is lovely sliced thin, sprinkled with a little honey or cinnamon and fruit on your morning toast.  It's delicious crumbled in a salad, or any application that uses cottage cheese.

9.  Weigh down the ricotta as above (you can use weights, as I did, water, rice, even a pint jar filled with coins), and make sure you have a larger pan beneath to catch more whey.  Refrigerate, and unmold when ready to present.

10.  Drier ricotta is lovely sliced thin, sprinkled with a little honey or cinnamon and fruit on your morning toast.  It's delicious crumbled in a salad, or any application that uses cottage cheese.

KIDDOCJJ HINTS, HACKS & TIPS:

1.  If you don't have citric acid powder, you can use lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to coagulate the milk.  Use regular thick skinned lemons, not thin-skinned Meyers. Why? the pH (acid content) of thicker skinned lemons is lower.  For each gallon of milk, you'll need 2/3 cup strained lemon juice or 2/3 cup white vinegar.

2.  I've made this cheese with lemon juice, and right before putting into a mold, I fold in a tsp or 2 of grated lemon zest.

3.  Wetter cheese is useful in lasagne and pizza.  Drier Ricotta is great for schmearing on toast, for cannoli, and other Italian desserts.

4.  Use whole or 2% milk (you'll have less yield of cheese, due to less fat).  Skim/Non-Fat simply won't work - not enough fat to make curds.  Remember to avoid homogenized milk, and also UHT Milk (pasteurized at ultra high temperatures for longer shelf stability).

5.  An molded ricotta can act as a beautiful centerpiece for a charcuterie platter - drizzle with olive oil and herbs, surround it with sun dried tomatoes, nuts and other goodies, and prepare for praise.  Alternately before molding, you can mix in some chopped herbs along with some finely chopped scallions or shallots.  For a sweet version, mix in chopped dried fruit, some cinnamon, a little honey, and your ricotta will be the star of breakfast or brunch.

6.  What to do with the leftover whey?   You can freeze it for later, or use, instead of water, in any baked good, soup, or even a smoothie.  It is protein rich, and so it can enrich anything you cook or blend.

7.   Cheesecloth is very loosely woven material, and when used to drain a fine curd cheese, may let a lot of the smaller curds slip through.  So use a triple layer if straining.  Alternately, butter muslin is tightly woven, so a layer or two easily holds in the curds. It's typically labelled "ultra-fine", "grade 90", or "tightly woven."   All can be washed and re-used:  rinse out any curds under cold running water, then submerge in a bowl of hot soapy water and wash by hand.  Rinse thoroughly and hang to air dry.  Store in a zip lock bag that indicates that it is for cheesemaking.

8.  My nut milk bag is my favorite for draining curds - it's so easy to use, washes like a dream, and is inexpensive, given the multiple uses it has (you can even use it in the washer to hold delicates).