Have you ever wanted to learn how to make a cheese at home and impress your friends or dinner party guests? Well now you can VERY SIMPLY!!
Making your own cheeses at home is good fun and allows you to enjoy your cheese knowing exactly what has gone into it. Some cheeses are easier to make than others; one of the easiest is ricotta, a soft, creamy, mild Italian cheese. Ricotta cheese is thought to originate from Roman times, when travelers stopped in the countryside and cooked their meals in large kettles over open fires. The literal translation of ricotta is “recooked”. Ricotta is extremely high in calcium: one half-cup contains 42% of the recommended daily dose.
It is a fresh cheese, rather than ripened or aged, such as brie and camembert. Strictly speaking, ricotta is not a cheese but a by-product of cheese production, but is widely classed as a cheese alongside all the other popular varieties enjoyed by cheese lovers all over the world.
To make homemade ricotta cheese, you will need one litre of whole milk, 1/2 cup white vinegar, a heavy-based stainless steel or enamel pot,cheesecloth ( or a clean chux cloth), a strainer and a cooking thermometer.
Before you start on your cheese, rinse your pot with cold water; this will help stop the milk from scorching. Then, pour your milk into the pot and put it on a medium heat. Stir the milk now and then as it heats,keeping an eye out for bubbles around the edges of the pot. If you see any, check the temperature of the milk; you are aiming for between 90 and 95 degrees. Take the milk off the heat as soon as it reaches this temperature, and add the white vinegar slowly and keep stirring as you add it. As soon as you see the
milk curdling, stop pouring in the vinegar but stir it for a little longer..
Next, wet your cheesecloth and put it into the strainer. Then pour your mixture through the cloth and strainer. Twist the ends of the cloth and tie them securely before hanging it over a large bowl. Let it drain for another two hours, or in the refrigerator overnight. Your homemade ricotta is then ready to eat; alternatively, transfer it to a tightly sealed container and it can
be kept in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Ricotta tastes great in salads and pasta dishes (including lasagna, ravioli and cannelloni) and is sometimes used in cheesecakes. It is an incredibly versatile cheese, equally suitable for both savory and sweet recipes. Ricotta served simply with chocolate shavings or a dusting of cinnamon is a popular dessert in Italy.
You can add herbs and salt while still warm or use the ricotta in desserts.
Diane Rae is a Master Cheesemaker who teaches people to make cheese in their own home with her DVD series. Check it out here at How To Make Cheese At Home