Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Home Made Ricotta

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin

Those of you who read my blog may know that I am a passionate amateur cheese maker. I took a cheese making course at my local community house about two years ago, and haven’t looked back since.

I have made the following cheeses so far with great success; Feta, Wensleydale, Gouda, Pepper Jack, Pyrenees with peppercorns, Parmesan, Romano, Camembert, Stilton, Yoghurt Cheese and Caerphilly.

However, not all cheeses have been successful. For instance, once when making Wensleydale with UHF Full cream milk (which is not advised), and I had a total disaster when the curds did not set. I thought back to the cheese making class, and I remembered that one of the ladies mentioned that if the curds doesn't set after a second go, never throw out the milk because you can always make Ricotta out of it.

So, out with the cheese making book and off I went. I brought the milk to 90°-95°C stirring all the time to ensure that the milk didn't burn, and then added half a cup of white vinegar. This is meant to separate the milk into a basic curds and whey. Guess what? Nothing happened! This was the most stubborn milk I had ever come across. So in a panic, I threw in another half a cup of vinegar. It finally worked. The whey was visible and the curds were so tiny that you could just see them. I strained the curds and whey through cheesecloth in a colander and waited for 5 minutes. The cheese was still very hot so I had to be careful not to burn myself.

After a bit of mucking around, I ended up with two containers full of creamy Ricotta. I added half a teaspoon of salt to each container and stirred well. I now make ricotta with fresh whey that is left over from when I make a cheese, and add one cup of full cream milk to it. That way, I don’t get very too much ricotta and none is wasted. To make a small amount, just use 2 litres of full cream milk and quarter of a cup of white or cider vinegar. It works fine this way as well.

I used it in the filling for some ravioli that I made the next day. It tastes very nice indeed and much better than the store bought stuff that they try and pass off as fresh ricotta.

The old saying is true;

“When at first you don't succeed, try, try again.” Or “Waste not, want not!”