Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Ricotta

I had a go at making ricotta the other day.  I saw someone make it on a cooking show on TV ages ago, and put it on my -must try- list, but promptly forgot about it, as I often do.  And so recently it came to my attention again - thankyou Donna Hay's latest Spring issue, so I had to give it a go.  It was so easy to make, and it tasted really yummy - I was impressed ! Sorry Donna I didn't use your recipe, but this is how I made it...

First: something I learned just recently...if you rinse your pot with water before putting the milk in, it won't scald the milk on the bottom of the pot ! How cool is that !

I had a 2L bottle of milk with a useby date of that same day, so I used it all, well, almost all.  Just because I opened a new bottle, Ruby had to have a drink of milk, so 2L minus a bit of milk is what I used.  I added that plus 1/2 a cup of cream and 1/2 tsp sea salt to a pot and brought it almost to the boil.

2L of full cream milk ( I used the non-homogenized milk), 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 tsp sea salt, almost at the boil.  You can tell it's 'there' when you see steam rising off the milk and it starts to get frothy like this.

Add 3 Tablespoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice (I used vinegar) and turn heat down to low.  Keep stirring and watch it separate into curds and whey - it won't take long.

And when I finished watching and marvelling at this amazing process of separation, I turned around to find this happy little dancer had quickly and quietly climbed up onto my kitchen bench with a BIG smile on her face.  She danced a little jig and clapped her hands as I turned around - the little monkey !  And that's why I can't leave anything unattended on my kitchen bench which is really tricky sometimes as my kitchen is a tiny one and that bit of bench she is standing on, is pretty much the only bit of useable bench space in there !

Ok, so back to the ricotta...

After removing the distraction,  take the pot off the heat and let it sit for 5-10 mins.
Meantime, prepare a sieve lined with some muslin cloth and prop it up over a bowl or jug.

Then pour your curds and whey into the muslin lined sieve like this...

Make sure you put the sieve over a big enough bowl if you intend to keep the whey, as there is a lot of whey,  maybe 1-1.5 L, much more than there are curds.

The yellowish coloured whey is collecting in the bowl.  It will gush through the sieve at first, then reduce to a drip.  I only used a single layer of muslin.  Keep the whey to use as a substitute for water or milk in your baking.

After 15 minutes the contents of my sieve (the ricotta) has reduced to this amount.

And my finished ricotta looks like this - quite firm and creamy to taste - yum.  At this point you could drizzle it with honey, or mix it with some fresh herbs and spread it on bread or mix it with pasta for a tasty treat...mmmmmmmmmm...i think next time I might strain it for a shorter length of time, and leave it a bit softer for spreading.

This time i crumbled it over some cooked pumpkin...

Mashed it all together and added some chopped basil.  i used this mixture instead of a white sauce in my lasagna for dinner - it was sooo good. 

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