Ricotta Cheese

In these days of panic buying and hoarding, you’ve got to wonder what are people doing with all that chicken, not to mention toilet paper.  And of course, my big question is, where are all the chicken wings?  Every restaurant in the country had chicken wings on their menu, so shouldn’t there have been a glut in the grocery store by now?

We had an excess of milk.  Not hoarding or panic buying by any means, just bought a gallon of whole milk last week when a half would probably have been enough.  So, with half of it still sitting in the walk-in, and the expiration date being the 28th of April, what should we do?  At first we thought to freeze it to use in soups and such later, but then we read about making ricotta cheese!

There seems to be thousands of recipes for making your own ricotta, with three things being constant: whole milk, salt and some kind of acid.  We went with a version from the website “Master Class“, with, of course, a few tweaks from our in-house Chef, our very own Master.  This recipe calls for citric acid, instead of the more traditional vinegar or lemon juice, with the latter being an option they include as well.

It was not hard.  You heat the milk to about 180 degrees, some say higher, none say lower, add the acid, stir as it “curdles”, strain it through cheesecloth, let it drain and voila, fresh ricotta cheese!  The MC recipe adds a little heavy cream to the finished product, which makes (obviously) a creamier result. Other recipes mix milk and cream together in the beginning of the process.  That’s what I would do next time.

We had some commercial ricotta, so we tried the two side-by-side, and it was interesting how different they were.  The Bel Gioioso had a more ‘cheese’ flavor, while our homemade version tasted ‘milkier’, most likely due to the after-addition of heavy cream.  Textures were very similar, both creamy and spreadable.  Of course there is also economics to consider – our half gallon of milk plus about half cup of cream yielded 1 pint of cheese, which isn’t too bad, considering that #1 the milk was not going to last much longer, and #2 you got some delicious, freshly made cheese. The left over whey is not thrown out either; you can use it in soups, breads, pancakes, even potatoes, as a replacement for water in your recipe.

It was ridiculously easy, and we were so glad we didn’t lose the milk!  Spread on a crouton with a little sea salt and black pepper, very happy we didn’t lose the milk!





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