Worry is today’s mice nibbling on tomorrow’s cheese. – Anonymous
|The finished ricotta. Ever so slightly lemony tasting. Very very good.|
So this weekend was interesting. I tried my hand at making cheese. It was actually super easy. Of course some cheeses are most definitely an art, but ricotta is a snap. For the cost of 4 litres of milk and a little cream I made the equivalent of 2 tubs of ricotta, plus an interesting cheese from the whey which is called mysost. There was absolutely nothing wasted.
So let’s get down to it, shall we? The recipe is simplicity itself. I used whole cow’s milk, but goat or sheep can also be used. Making the cheese was almost magical as the curds formed right away — literally in minutes. Remember to save the whey, which is the liquid residue, for the mysost.
|After the addition of the lemon |
and vinegar. 2nd minute.
You will need a large pot with a heavy bottom. I used the largest pot we had and the milk nearly filled it. If I had a larger pot I would have felt a little more comfortable because I thought it may boil over, but it didn’t. You also need a candy thermometer to check the progress of heating the milk.
4L (1 gallon) whole milk
1 cup 32% heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1 lemon (1/3 cup juice)
1 tsp white vinegar
Place the milk and cream in a very large pot with a heavy bottom. Heat the milk, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t scorch on the bottom. If t does throw it all out, because your ricotta will taste burnt.
Continue to heat until the thermometer reads 190°F. At that point, add in the lemon juice and vinegar. Stir to completely incorporate.
|After the addition of the lemon |
and vinegar. 1st minute.
Turn off the heat and let the pot sit on the burner for 1 minute. You will see curds forming immediately. After 1 minute, stir again and let sit for another minute.
Line a colander with triple thickness of cheesecloth. Place the lined colander over a large bowl. Strain the ricotta through the cheesecloth to drain off the separated whey. Leave to drain for 40 minutes and then gather up the cheesecloth with the ricotta inside.
At this point most recipes recommend squeezing more whey out of the cheese. I did, and maybe over did it, as my ricotta was drier than I would have liked. So use your own judgement.
Keep the whey to use for the mysost. If you aren’t going to use the whey for cheese, you can substitute it anywhere you would use water in a recipe, for example bread making, or even boiling pasta. It can be added in berry shakes or smoothies as well. You can also cut the whey 50/50 with water and use it to water plants. Apparently they love it.
|Straining the ricotta.|
options: honey, cloves, cumin, chilli flakes
Take the whey and heat it in a large pot. Add any of the optional ingredients you like. The amount is dictated by the amount of whey you are using and how strongly flavoured you want your final product. Cook over medium or low heat until it is 1/4 its original volume. This will take several hours. You don’t have to stir it constantly during this time. Every 20 minutes would be fine.
Spoon off any froth that forms on top and save it. This is the albumin. It is added back in.
|This is the whey.|
After the reduction you will notice the whey has become quite thick, like cream. Add the albumin back into the whey. Continue to cook but pay more attention to it now, stirring frequently. The whey will begin to thicken up and turn light brown. If you reduce it past this point your cheese will get progressively harder, perhaps too hard. That is the voice of experience…
Once browned, remove from the heat and place the bowl with the cheese (it is cheese now) in a sink of cold water. Whisk briskly to make very smooth, like soft butter.
Place in a buttered or plastic wrap line container. The cheese will set, so whatever container you choose will dictate the shape of your finished product. After it has set, remove, wrap and refrigerate.
Don’t put the mysost in a jar or any container without straight sides. If you do you’ll never get the cheese out. This makes a very light tasting cheese which goes very well with fruit, or if soft enough as a spread.
|The finished, set Mysost cheese. Next time I will not reduce it quite so much.|
There will most definitely be a "next time." This was fun!!
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