Any home cheese makers here?
How to make easy fresh Ricotta at home.
This is something I have been doing for last 6 months - always works, all up takes about 10mins.
First a disclaimer - technically this is not Ricotta because ricotta means re-cooked and uses the whey left after a rennet based cheese has already been made. I think it is also like paneer which is an Indian cheese, but they press it (this is unpressed). Anyway it is like Ricotta, but made from full milk so you probably get more ricotta yield, more protein and thicker solids content than ricotta made from whey.
What you need:
- 1 litre of discount milk - cost $1.25 (I use this because it is a bit more watery than normal milk, so it is a bit more like whey).
- 80ml of white vinegar
- microwave, slotted spoon, heat proof glass jug, draining rack (I use base from a decor container used heat food in a microwave).
- cotton tea-towel if you want to save the whey.
- some recipes add salt I don’t, my view is I can always add salt later to the meal depending on what I am using the ricotta for.
What you don’t need - thermometer or any complicated ■■■■.
Put milk and vinegar in glass jug. Put into microwave. I do 3 minutes on high. But you have to avoid boiling the milk, that stuffs it. So first few times you make this ricotta you are getting to know your microwave. You want to get the milk to between 74’C and 85’C. But you approach from the cooler side, in small increments, that way you don’t need a thermometer. The milk tells you when it is the right temp because it separates.
- So put milk in microwave for a minute, take it out, stir around the outside with slotted spoon. Does the milk separate? That means you get white globs aggregating in the middle and a watery pale yellow liquid spinning around the outside. As you stir round the outside it should cause more aggregation, if instead the white middle splits up and everything turns to milk again - it isn’t hot enough.
- Put it back in microwave for a minute, take it out, stir with slotted spoon. Does it separate this time?
- If not put it back again, try 30secs more this time. Keep repeating for 30 secs intervals till it separates.
- When it separates and stays separating as you stir around the outside, you will get big heavy ball of cheese spinning and floating in the middle of the pale yellow whey. When the cheese is as big as your spoon, lift it out and put it on the plastic rack to drain. Go back, keep stirring, you will get more cheese, keep lifting it out until you can’t get any more (the little white strings slip through the slots of your spoon).
That’s it, you’re done. It will take you longer to wash up than it did to make the ricotta. After you’ve done it a few times you will know how long it takes and on what setting - you can just set it for that many minutes the first go. But it is always safer to do it in multiple goes rather than risk boiling it.
Make some toast, spread on hot ricotta, add cracked pepper, slice some tomato, pick some fresh basil leaves - put it in your gob. Think to yourself … god that was easy, why doesn’t everyone do this. Fresh hot ricotta is much better than old refrigerated ricotta you buy with added stuff to preserve it.
Whatever ricotta you don’t eat only needs to drain for about 10mins, then put it in a container in the fridge - will last for 4 days - pour off any more whey that oozes out of the cheese. I use the ricotta instead of margarine/butter on bread/toast. Also used in cooking pancakes and carbonara pasta.
Reclaim the whey
You still have a jug of yellow liquid called acid whey. This is different from other wheys called sweet whey. Sweet wheys don’t taste as sour and have a lot more protein in them - they have a wide variety of uses - feeding animals, making normal ricotta, or creating the whey protein supplement powders sold in health food stores.
Acid whey is still a useful food - it contains a lot of the lactose (sugar/carbohydrate) and calcium that was in the original milk. But it doesn’t taste so good - bit acid, sour, lemony taste. Despite the name and taste it is only as acidic as orange juice. So you use it in small quantities so the taste is covered up by other things e.g. as 30% of the water, juice or stock in recipes for bread, soup, porridge, cakes etc. This whey can also be a substitute for buttermilk in recipes (use about 75% of the recipe’s buttermilk quantity).
It is also good to reuse the acid whey, so as not to dispose of this whey where it can runoff into natural water courses as all the carbs promote growth of bacteria and algae.
To reclaim it. Just get another empty jug - bigger than 1Ltr. Put your cotton tea towel over the jug, make a dip in the middle. Pour the whey through the tea towel - that’s it. I usually then pour the whey back into the original 1 Ltr milk container and put it in the fridge.
Clean up everything well and promptly, including the tea towel. Milk solids get pretty nasty if left to grow a lot of bacteria and then they come in contact with something you later eat.