Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creamy Whole Milk Ricotta, Homemade!

I've always wanted to try and make my own cheese...  I even bought a book on cheese-making only to shelve it because it was full of ingredients I'd never heard of, worse, I don't even know where I could get them!  I thought the whole thing was just too complicated.

But recently a friend told me how easy it was to make fresh cheese, like this whole milk ricotta, and it only took 4 ingredients!

Ricotta?  I always thought it was uninteresting.  (I've always preferred cream cheese!) 

But my friend said:  "this is not the kind you find at the supermarket".  Still, I was not interested.  She said:  "this ricotta is creamy and delicious... almost like cream cheese, without the tanginess".  Ok, I was willing to try it.

I am glad I did.

Like I said, 4 ingredients... 1 liter of whole milk, 1 cup of whipping cream, 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (I used calamansi juice) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Place everything in a large stockpot (not aluminum) and heat to 190F, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom getting burned.  When 190F is reached, remove from heat and let sit 10 to 15 minutes as the curds separate from the whey (remember little Miss Muffet?).

Meanwhile, line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth and place the whole thing over a really big bowl to catch the whey.  Pour the curds and whey into the strainer and let it drain for about 20 or 30 minutes (truth is I couldn't wait, I drained mine just 15 minutes).  After that time it's ready to eat.  But I chilled mine and after several hours, it was perfect!  Hubby said it was like cream cheese, but sweet rather than tangy!  Wow!   

My biggest problem was that I needed pasteurized milk, but all the milk in the supermarket was ultra-pasteurized!  My friend to the rescue, she had a supplier of pasteurized whole milk...

My next problem?  I couldn't find decent cheesecloth!  Guess what I used instead?

A cloth diaper!  Yup, to be specific, a cloth diaper that's known as bird's eye.  It was supposed to be the little girl's when she was a baby, except that she didn't like it.  She preferred the other type, which was the gauze-type of cloth diaper.  Anyway, we had started to use the bird's eye cloth diapers as kitchen towels and when I saw it on the kitchen counter, I thought it would work (of course I asked for one that was unused and sterilized it).

It worked perfectly!  (especially since my strainer was a rectangle... and I used my roasting pan as my catch basin for the whey, which will be used in hubby's smoothies the next few days!)

Although, gathering the ends up was a bit awkward, since the diaper was a rectangle...

The whole project took me about 2 hours... especially since somewhere in the middle, I wondered why my milk mixture was not getting hotter... only to find out that my fire had gone out!  I quickly restart the stove and crossed my fingers that there was no harm done.

Despite some mishaps, I think my cheese came out really well!

And yes, my friend was right!  This homemade ricotta is nothing like the supermarket kind.  And yes, I am a fan!  I will be making this often!

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