My closest friends know I have a love-hate relationship with cheese. I love it, but it hates me. I’m talking migraines that can last for days. So, I pick my battles in the whey/casein war in my body and choose wisely. I’ve truly given up traditional ice cream for the past six years. As much as it pains me, indulging on with just the waffle cone or a fruity sorbet is about where I’m at these days. I miss mint chocolate chip sooooo.
So, when it comes to cheating, I weigh out my week of duties. It’s a full-on court debate in my head folks. If I can muddle through with a stabbing dance rave in my brain later the meal better be worth it.
The top of my list of must haves right now is homemade ricotta. It’s creamy and versatile use is pure joy- especially mixed with a bit of honey on brioche.
Cheese.com says: Ricotta is a fresh Italian cheese made from sheep, cow, goat or buffalo’s milk whey left over from the production of cheese. Since the casein is filtered away from whey during cheese making process, Ricotta is suitable for persons with casein intolerance. Being low in fat and high in protein, Ricotta is a dieter’s dream cheese. (I realize true cheese makers will correct me in that ricotta is made from the whey, but this homemade version is whey easier I promise, more like a queso-fresco type cheese.)
I can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. It’s that versatile and migraine free.
What might cause you a bit of a headache is if you use the wrong type of milk. Big learning lesson when making ricotta do not use organic milk! Organic milk is typically UHT (ultra high temperature) processed. Heating the milk at a high temperature is meant to kill bacteria and spores so it can be shelf stable for long periods. I made the mistake of using organic milk to have a quarter of the quantity of ricotta as I should have if I had used fresh milk or regular pasteurized milk. Once you’ve been there and done that, the next batch you make the right way, you will be in awe at your curdly excellent cheese making skills. High fives all around happy.
When it comes to the acid ingredient go with either the white vinegar or lemon juice. I feel the white vinegar gave the best neutral flavor.
Draining the ricotta is best done in a colander lined with cheesecloth, you could use paper towels in a pinch. I like to drain mine in a colander inside a bowl. I put a ramekin in between, so the whey doesn’t touch the drained ricotta. I’ll let it go on the counter for 15 minutes, then continue in the fridge covered, overnight. I like my ricotta more on the dry side.
But whey’t a minute what to do with that leftover whey? Well, it doesn’t need to go to waste. The whey is great to supplement and add extra protein to shakes, soups, pancakes, and polenta. It can be used in the fermentation process when culturing vegetables like sauerkraut.
I have frozen my whey and will be using in my garden. Whey mixed with water 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle can be used to ward off powdery mildew. Now, that is whey cool!
Don’t worry I have a family who adores cheese and I will make sure my fellow midwestern Cheeseheads up north are represented with some recipes that will melt their hearts. (Sorry, that one was cheesy.)
Now, let’s make some ricotta cheese folks!1