Friday, March 11, 2011

D.I.Y "Ricotta"

Before you read this article, Read This!
I was mistaken in some of my information in this entry.  See the comment below.

We've all done it before - you're on your way home, you stop and pick an extra gallon of milk thinking you're doing everybody a favor and you get home to find somebody else just did the same. 
Before you start mixing up White Russians and reenacting The Big Lebowsky, consider this, a simple fresh cheese.  In addition to getting a little longer shelf life out of your milk, it will open up a world of options - granted, none of them are cocktails.**

D.I.Y. Fresh Lemon "Ricotta"

2 qts. (that's a half gallon) whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp salt
Juice and zest of one lemon
The separated curd

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, bring the milk, cream and salt to just a simmer.
2. Once it hits a simmer, (don't let it simmer for long) stir in the lemon juice and turn off the heat and let this stand for 10-12 minutes.  Do not continue to stir - you sill see the curd and whey separate.
3.  Line a strainer with a cheese cloth and strain the curds out of the whey.  (If you had pigs the whey from this would be one of their favorite snacks. At one time in Parma italy, for your prosciutto to be considered "di Parma" your pigs would have to have feasted on the whey leftover from making Parmigano Reggiano)
4.  Stir the lemon zest into the curds and throw the whole thing in the fridge for 2-4 hours.  (the curd in the cheese cloth, in the strainer, in a bowl)

Your cheese is ready to go.  Transfer it to an airtight container.  This can be used where ever you would use ricotta, but mine was shoveled away with crackers before I could apply it to anything.

Variation Notes:  In this recipe, I use the word "ricotta" but many cultures have a version of this cheese with slight variations on the recipe and process.  It's very similar to the process of making paneer, farmer's cheese, pot cheese, and if you pressed the curd and let it sit, you'd have queso blanco.
Also, if you used skim milk and rinsed the curds, then soaked them in half & half you'd have cottage cheese. 

** If somebody has a cocktail that involves ricotta cheese I'd love to hear about it.
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