Last night, I made cheese. Whole milk ricotta cheese… and damned if it wasn’t easy! I had a half gallon of whole milk that wasn’t going to last much longer and I wanted to make use of it. Homemade ricotta is a quick way to utilize milk that would otherwise go bad.
Cheese seems like such a complicated food that I never thought it would be something I could just whip up in my kitchen. I thought the same thing about yogurt before I started making my own. The more I learn about cooking from scratch, the more empowered I feel. So much food we buy is processed, packaged, and labeled that it is easy to get disconnected from its humble origins. It nice to get back to basics, cut out the middle man, and just do it yourself.
Okay, I’m off my D.I.Y soapbox. Really, I’m just learning all this myself and I’m an overly enthusiastic student. Back to cheese making, here is what you need:
- 1/2 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized. This milk is dead, you can’t make cheese or yogurt out of it. Its dead… dead I tell you!)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (one large lemon)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- square of muslin or other mesh cloth
- Mix together the milk, lemon juice, and salt.
- Heat to 185 degrees on medium low. As it heats, the curd will separate from the whey.
- Remove from heat and let it set for ten minutes.
- Line a colander with the muslin and spoon the curds into the muslin.
- Tie up the corners and hang from a spoon over a bowl for 30 minutes.
TUH-DUH! Ricotta cheese! The volume of cheese you’re left with is a lot less than the milk you started with so I wouldn’t recommend going out to buy fresh milk to do this. But this is an awesome way to use up milk thats about to expire. Making this cheese also leaves you with a lot of whey. You can drink it or use it to boil grains, make oatmeal, or use it anywhere which you would normally use water. Its high protein and pretty darn good for you.
Happy cheese making!