I do love cheese, but really what’s not to love (plus I am married to a guy from Wisconsin after all)? But the thought of making it has always seemed more like a science experiment than cooking. Yes, I realize that’s really what all cooking is to some degree or another, with the new trends in molecular gastronomy pushing it to the far ends of that spectrum, but for some reason – with all its rennets and cultures and “mold powders” – cheese making is overwhelmingly intimidating.
So I decided to test the waters with something I could wrap my head around. Ingredients that I not only understood but that could be purchased at the grocery store. I would make ricotta! It’s like cheese making lite.
And speaking of light, searching for recipes I found many that used whole milk plus heavy cream. Not exactly the healthier version that I had in mind. Luckily a quick Google search yielded this recipe from Cooking Light.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
makes 3 cups
1 gallon 2% reduced-fat milk
5 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Line a large colander or sieve with 5 layers of dampened cheesecloth, allowing the cheesecloth to extend over outside edges of colander; place colander in a large bowl.
Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy stockpot. Attach a candy thermometer to edge of pan so that thermometer extends at least 2˝ into milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until candy thermometer registers 170° (about 20 minutes), gently stirring occasionally. As soon as milk mixture reaches 170°, stop stirring (whey and curds will begin separating at this point). Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer registers 190°. (Be sure not to stir, or curds that have formed will break apart.) Immediately remove pan from heat. (Bottom of pan may be slightly scorched.)
Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon curds into cheesecloth-lined colander; discard whey, or reserve it for another use (I really do need to find another use for this!). Drain over bowl for 5 minutes. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Hang cheesecloth bundle from kitchen faucet; drain 15 minutes or until whey stops dripping. Scrape ricotta into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt; toss gently with a fork to combine. Cool to room temperature.
Store in the refrigerator.
Nutritionals per 1/4 cup: calories: 115, calories from fat 48%, fat 6.1g, saturated fat 3.8g, monounsaturated fat 1.8g, polyunsaturated fat 0.2g, protein 11.5g, carbohydrate 3.5g, fiber 0.0g, cholesterol 23mg, iron 0.0mg, sodium 191mg, calcium 250mg.
What am I going to do with this first foray into fromage? Perhaps top my favorite pancakes with it and a drizzle of maple syrup. Or spread it on toast and top with fresh figs. Or whip with cocoa powder and a little sugar for a lower calorie version of mousse. While all of these sound delightful, I have this batch of ricotta earmarked for something else… something sure to be a blog entry soon so you’ll just have to stay tuned!