Monday, November 2, 2009

Homemade Ricotta Cheese (its easy, try it)

I got a really neat recipe book the other day from my BOMC2 book club in my mailbox (yes, of course I needed another recipe book lol) It has things I never thought of making in it.

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The Ricotta cheese really struck my interest. Looked simple enough, lets give it a whirl, I thought, and probably said out loud, I do talk to myself a lot.
I had seen Alton Brown make ricotta on his cool show on Food Network once, using vinegar and it looked pretty easy. I just so happen to have the ingredients for this recipe on hand..(the citric acid I have in my pantry because I use it for my sprouting...I got it at Echo Hill Country Store, you may be able to get it at a grocery store, I never looked. Echo Hill has it so cheap.

I want to start off by saying...this is easy, try it once and you will make it again and again..I promise! It takes less than an hour to make and no effort...just keeping an eye on a pot for a few mins.

8 C Whole Milk
1 t citric acid
¼ c water
2 T half and half
1 t kosher salt (I used course sea salt, it worked)

Put the milk in a pot on the stove, and put a candy thermometer in it (don't get scared off, this is so easy, clip it on and relax). In a measure cup, put the water and add the citric acid and stir it up...dump it in the milk give it a whirl and turn on the heat to medium. Let it go, dont' touch it again, resist the urge to stir it anymore, the initial stir is the only one you will do...and in about 15 min the temp should come up to 190° F...turn off heat and let the thing sit 10 min while the curds seperate from the whey.
While you wait for it to go up to 190......
In another bowl, put the half and half and salt so you are ready when it is.
Put a fine mesh strainer (window screen size mesh is fine) over a bowl or another strainer in the sink.

When it hits 190°... let it set, turn it off and let it set 10 mins to seperate curds and whey.
then dump it right into the strainer and let it sit (recipe book doesn't state how long, I left the first batch sit 10 min)..then dump in bowl of half and half salt mix and fold to combine.

My first batch is super awesome and the second batch was even better..this pic is the first batch..the second batch I let sit in the strainer in the sink longer..about 25 min.

That's it. This keeps one week in the frige. I put it in a canning jar, it said you can cover in the bowl and put it in frige, but I need room in my frige for other things and I love my canning jars. Oh yeah, this is two batches in this jar..each batch makes about 1¾-2 c of Ricotta gallon of milk makes 2 batches (3½-4 c). Not bad, if you go to a specialty store (Salinos or Russo's for locals in my area) you would pay a fortune per pound for this cheese.

I am sure you can find most recipes from this book online, but who wants to research that much. This gal has recipes for so many neat things...all sorts of mustards, beef jerky in the oven, fudge cicles, toaster tarts, limoncello, kim chee, hot sauce, ketsup, dressings, jr mints, marshmallows, graham crackers and so much more and its all easy step by step recipes.
You are probably thinking toaster tarts? Who would make them, but if you show up with home made pop tarts to a brunch, you will be the talk of the brunch, and you will know they are wholesome and there isn't any chemicals and junk in them.
It tastes so good, I could eat it as is (and did eat some as is)..My next adventure will be to make Ricotta salata (and I won't use this silly press they use on thsi link, but here is a basic idea..I will just use a 28 oz tomato type can as the book states to do). It looks so good, it would be a great addition to wine and cheese and cracker night with a few friends.
But here is a basic idea I found online of someone who made it from the book, using a cheese press..again, not needed.
PS I made pumpkin lasagna with it family loved it. I didn't taste the pumpkin and neither did hubby, it was the ricotta that shined in the meal! (the pumpkin lasanga recipe was in food network magazine this did not have much pumpkin taste to me..but hey, it was good and pumpkin adds some really healthy vitamins)


You can use the byproduct that you drained in bagel making, or any baking that you need to use water.

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