Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bring me the churn, Pa.

I have been quite Suzy Homemaker-ish the last few days. (Raise your hand if you remember Suzy Homemaker toys. I had the kitchen sink and the iron. No wonder I hate dishes and ironing today.)

Anyway, I finished putting together Abbey's quilt this morning. We make quilts the easy way—by stacking the batting, backing, and top, stitching most of the way around, turning it all right-side out, then closing up the hole. Then I tacked it at each corner, and she's good to go. If you're a quilting purist, don't look at my beds. Abbey intends to hand quilt a design in each big square, but at least it's usable while she's procrastinating, and that's what's important to her.

Then I decided I would try my hand at homemade ricotta cheese. We avoid a lot of cheese because Abbey is so sensitive to the garbage that gets fed to and injected into commercial cattle, but we get raw milk from a farmer, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

First, I get my milk in half-gallon mason jars, like this:

See how the cream rises to the top? Since we're not fans of whole milk, and also since some cows produce more cream than others, I skim some of the cream off and put it in a separate jar. It's good for creamy sauces, coffee, and sometimes I make butter out of it.

What I'm left with is about 2% milk-fat milk.

Now let's make ricotta!

Here's what you need:

Not really all that milk. I just thought it made a pretty picture in spite of the yellow cast and shadows from my kitchen lights. I used 4 cups milk, 2 cups cream, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 3 tablespoons white vinegar.

Measure out the milk and cream and pour them into a stainless steel or ceramic coated pot.

Stir in the salt and set the pot over medium heat to come to a boil.

Meanwhile, place two layers of cheesecloth over a colander, and set it over a bowl.

Stir the milk every so often so it doesn't burn, and when it just begins to boil around the edges, remove it from the heat.

Pour in the vinegar, give it a stir, and then leave it alone for a few minutes. In a very short time it will begin to form curds, which will separate from the whey. (One website said to feed the whey to your pets.)

After just two minutes, I could pull the curds away from the whey.

Now dump the whole thing into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Let it drip however long you want. The longer it drains, the dryer it will be. After 10 minutes, I gathered the cheesecloth up and squeezed gently.

Not only does this smell good while it's in the making, but you can't image the difference in flavor. I don't know if I'll ever buy ricotta again!

This recipe made almost 2 cups. Next time I'll use 6 cups milk, 2 cups cream, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 3 Tbsp. vinegar to make a little more so I can stand there with a spoon and eat it warm.

Be thankful ~


~ Kelly Lawson said...

You can use the whey to make wonderful bread. Ask Tara Hines for instructions.

Deb said...

Ah! I was just trying to figure out what to do with all the extra milk I have. Now I know. Looks delicious!

Kayla said...

Hmmmm. You make this seem very doable.