I didn’t actually make this ricotta for Little Miss Muffet. But when I started thinking about curds and whey how could I ignore her? Curds and whey have finally started to make sense to me now that my husband and I made queso blanco and then I made this ricotta last week.
I put this on my “list of things to make this summer” on July 1st and I just made it on January 16th. Better late than never? Anyhow, until my husband used a new cheese kit we bought, I was always overwhelmed by homemade cheese. As it turns out, curds and whey are ridiculously approachable.
I used only whole milk (4 cups) for my recipe but if you follow the Smitten Kitchen one she says adding part of it in cream will make a much richer ricotta. Since I was using this in a recipe (which I will post this week!) I figured the “slightly dry” ricotta would be fine. Pour the milk into the pot, watch the temperature while stirring and heat to 190-degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and add 3 tablespoons of acid– her recipe calls for lemon juice which I used but you could also use white vinegar or citric acid. You will be able to slightly taste the acid.
Once the acid is added, you wait five minutes and then salt (about a tablespoon). This is when the magic happens. Your milk turns from creamy and delicious to curds and whey. Just. Sitting. There. I can’t be the only one who thinks this is super cool?
Little Miss Muffet would be really proud of this right now. Or stick her face in and eat this all up. The first time I saw the whey it scared me. It doesn’t look how I pictured whey– slightly greenish/ yellow.
Prepare a colander with cheese cloth. I put mine over a large bowl because I save the whey — it’s still got great nutritional value and freezes well. I use a plastic colander to absolutely avoid any reactive metals, which I’m sure my other colander isn’t, but better safe than sorry.
Pour your curds and whey into the strainer and, well, strain. Bam. Ricotta. You let it sit for about an hour for a creamy ricotta but if you were to take this and press it you would get a very firm ricotta. I didn’t want firm, I wanted creamy and delicious.
See how weird whey is!? It is however good for all kinds of things to impart nutrients (but not tons of flavor) like using it as the cooking liquid for beans, in soups (especially creamy ones), in bread, etc. I am saving this bag in the freezer for my next batch of beans.
Making cheese turns out to be an amazingly simple process, so have you tried it yet? If you don’t want to wing it, check out Urban Cheese Craft’s cheese kits on Etsy. They have a few different types of kits for non-aged cheeses which makes cheese making very approachable! Oh, and as for the ricotta, sure I used it for something else but don’t think we didn’t eat some on bread, something I would never do with the store bought kind.