One of my favourite gifts this Christmas was a cheesemaking kit. I’ve wanted to try my hand at cheesemaking for a while, but hadn’t got round to it, so this made the perfect opportunity.
The kit contained a thermometer (0–100°C), citric acid, salt, cheesecloth, rennet tablets, basket mould, recipe booklet, which, with the exception of the rennet, is what you’ll need to make the recipes below. Like most things, you can get creative and improvise with what you have – a cloth-lined sieve replaces a basket mould, a different acid, like lemon juice or vinegar can replace the citric acid.
To start with I followed the kits recipe for Ricotta, and once I had strained out the curds, the liquid seemed to still have a lot of fat in it, not completely reduced to the thin, yellow whey I expected. I googled around, and found another recipe for Ricottone, literally ‘twice cooked’, a cheese which can be made with rich whey. So here’s my guide to making two types of cheese, from one batch of milk, in about 30 minutes.
How to make Ricotta cheese
- 4 litres whole milk
- Acid: 150ml distill white vinegar, or 150ml lemon juice, or 1 tsp citric acid
- ½ tsp salt
- Add your acid and salt to the milk and slowly heat to about 80°C (when the milk starts to simmer). If the curds don’t begin to form after a few minutes of heating you may need to add a little more acid.
- During this time curds should form on the top.
- Scoop the curds off the top, into a basket mould or sieve, lined with cheesecloth.
- Leave to drain for up to three hours. The longer you leave it the drier the cheese will become so adapt to your taste.
- Your cheese will keep in the fridge for up to seven days.
I left the Ricotta to strain for about three hours, making it a little drier, yet it was still light and fluffy. Over the next seven days in the fridge, it dried out over time to a crumbly texture, so if you aren’t going to use it straight away, you might want to make it a little wetter.
How to make Ricottone cheese
- Take the remaining rich whey from the Ricotta recipe above, combine it with the same amount of acid again.
- Put it back on the heat and slowly bring up to about 90°C, not letting it boil.
- Pour into a colander/sieve, lined with cheesecloth.
- Tying the corners together, hang over a pan to drain for about three hours.
The Ricottone I made was silky smooth and rich, much more like a cream cheese than the Ricotta. The whole process was much quicker and easier than I anticipated – I’ll definitely be making more.
What can leftover whey be used for?
Before you throughout the left over whey, there’s plenty of things it can be used for:
- Replace water in bread or pizza (why not use your Ricotta as a topping!)
- Replace water when cooking pasta
- Soak grains or beans
- Add to soups and casseroles
- Add to your compost pile
- Water your garden for the extra nutrients and lower the PH for acid loving plants
- Get creative and do some more research…