Cheese - call it Ricotta or something else

I made a real cheese the other day.  With rennet and everything.  It was the type that many people call Ricotta, but technically is a fresh cheese.  I don't really care.  It's a soft cheese that is really easy to make and all it requires is some milk and rennet.

I have some rennet in my fridge, since my younger sister gave me some along with cheesecloth, some milk and a book about cheese making.  She packed everything separately so I got many packages.  The first package contained cloth diapers, the next one a yellow liquid in an unmarked jar.  I have to admit that I wasn't thinking cheese at that point...  We have  a bit of a love/hate relationship, it's a long story, I love her, she hates me!  But anyway, the present was great and I've been meaning to try my hand at cheese making.  Like everything one hasn't done before, it was a bit scary, but also when it came down to it, it was really easy to do.

It is as simple as making yoghurt and I do that every week now.  I really, really like my yoghurt and miss it tremendously when I travel and can't have any.  But back to cheese.  The most complicated thing about making cheese is that most recipes call for a gallon of milk.  I guess 1 gallon of milk makes about 1 pound of cheese.  But I don't do large recipes.   Not in soaps and not in food. I prefer small batches, so I scaled it down to 1 liter (about a quart).

1 liter milk (I always use full fat milk, both for yoghurt and this cheese)
1/2 tsp salt
A little less than 1/4 tsp rennet.

Heat the milk in a pot to about 80C / 180F.
Take off the heat and put the pot in ice water to cool down to 50C / 125F.
Stir in the salt.

Now, the rennet needs to be diluted in some water before being mixed into the milk.  Add it to 1/4 cup cold water, stirring it in.

Then add the rennet mix to the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes and don't disturb it.

The milk will get thick.  Get a knife and cut into the curd to facilitate the separation of the whey from the curds.  Carefully, with a slotted spoon, ladle the curds into a sieve, lined with cheesecloth and let it drain.

Tie a string around the cheesecloth and hang it up and let it drain overnight and there you have it.  Wonderful fresh cheese.  I flavored mine with freshly pressed garlic and Chives and used it on my sourdough bread.  It was a wonderful robust flavor.  The cheese is also very good as it is.  My dogs loved it too.

I used the whey in the next sourdough bread recipe.  I can't say that I noticed that much difference in the taste, but I'm sure that it is very healthy to use it that way.

Of course the irony is that real Ricotta cheese is made from whey that is left over from other cheese making.  So it is a bit strange to call this Ricotta.  I did think about trying to make real ricotta by using the whey to make cheese again, but there wasn't that much of it so I imagine that there would have been very little cheese from that.  I may make cheese again.  I've read about making hard cheeses, but those are a bit complicated to make since one needs to store them and cure them at certain temperatures for a number of months.  I don't think I'll be making any hard cheeses soon, but I just might make another, maybe even bigger, batch of cheese.


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