Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ricotta Cheese - You can do it!

 Ricotta cheese is the second easiest cheese to make. The easiest is Queso Fresco, but this is a very close second. I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how I make cheese. I can give out all my recipes for cheese except one; it's not my recipe to give out. So I'll give you a recipe for my Ricotta. This can go in stuffed manicotti, pizza, lasagna, and even spaghetti. The only hitch to this recipe is you will need citric acid. Citric acid is available at some health food stores, sometimes with the canning stuff in stores, and you can always contact me and I can sell you some. It is relatively inexpensive. You can also order it from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. So really, there's no excuse for not giving this a try...

Ricotta - Recipe from Home Cheesemaking by Ricki Carroll

1 gallon whole milk (can not be ultra pasteurized or it will not work)
1 tsp. citric acid dissolved in 1/4 c. cool distilled water (yes it needs to be distilled, boil tap water if you have to)
1 tsp. cheese salt (optional, you can use plain, non iodized salt as well, I do not add the salt as I'd rather salt the meal instead)

Yes, really, that's it!

So first gather your ingredients and cooking gear. Make sure your measuring spoons, cups, and pot are very clean.

Put your milk in a large saucepan (the one you cook lots of spaghetti in.) Get out a 1/4c. measuring cup. Put 1 tsp. of citric acid in the measuring cup then fill up half way with distilled water. Mix the water and acid together until dissolved. Then finish filling up the measuring cup. Pour the citric acid mix in the milk. If you want to salt the cheese, add the salt too.

 Stir the milk up really good to get it all mixed up. Start heating the milk up on medium-low (my gas stove gives 1-7 and I heat it up on 2) and stir often. You don't want any milk to stick to the bottom.

Heat the milk up to between 185 and 195 degrees. I usually go to 190. Just make sure you don't boil it. As you heat the milk, you will see the curds gradually begin to form. Don't do the happy dance yet! Keep stirring it often until you see the curds and the whey separate.

The whey has a yellowish color - not white. When you get that separation, turn off the heat. Cover the pot and leave it alone for 10 minutes. Seriously, don't touch it.
The curds have sat and are now ready to separate.
Put some butter muslin (or an old pearl-snap-type-shirt) in a colander in the sink.

 Carefully ladle the curds into the colander. Once you've got it in, gather the corners of the cloth and tie them in a knot. Hang the cloth on your faucet to drip and drain for 20-30 minutes.

 The time difference will be determined by if you want your cheese real dry or slightly creamy.

After that small wait, you are ready to go. Grab a chunk and chow down. If you want to keep it for a recipe, put it in a covered container in the fridge. It will stay good for a week.