Friday, July 3, 2009

Fun in the Kitchen!

Hello All,

First of all, there is a new post over at Bee Beautiful, which is long overdue! Head over that way for your Fabulous Friday skin care tip. I have to say it felt a little strange typing up a "Fabulous Friday" post, since I have the day off and ultimately it feels like a Saturday. Already today I've had an incredible workout (longer than usual because I was not pressed for time), a casual morning, gotten some laundry done, gotten to watch a movie with Jeff while he was home on a break (put in extra hours last night bringing his consumers to the fireworks), washed a few loads of dishes, and started making ricotta cheese.

The cheese is largely because I had some whey to use up after making mozzarella the other day. Now, I use Ricki Carroll's 30 minute mozzarella from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co., so technically I shouldn't be able to make ricotta from that. HOWEVER, let me tell you a trick that can be used to easily convert this mozzarella whey into ricotta cheese.

The 30-min recipe cannot be reused to make ricotta because the whey is not cultured. So, I have added 1/2 a cup to 1 c of whey from my yogurt straining process. Here is how. First, after making the cheese, I strain all the whey into my GINORMOUS stock pot after making mozz. The whey I have leftover is still somewhat milky, even after yielding a pound of cheese. Not only that, but I also almost always have just a little shy of a gallon of whey leftover anyway. OK, so then I funnel all of that whey back into a newly cleaned gallon jug, and add the yogurt whey. Then I screw on the cap and let it sit on the counter, until the gallon starts to bulge a bit (you can tell the culture is definitely in the process that way, kind of like when air gets in the bag for Amish Friendship Bread (which I am also currently making "brewing"). This may take several hours (4-6?). When I did this the other day, some of our plans changed and I didn't have time to make ricotta then. Rather than waste all that whey, I just stuck it in the fridge. 2 days later I'm still able to make ricotta from it! [note: This is from raw milk. The mozzarella process is entirely raw, never getting above 110 degrees. For that reason, I do not know if it will work to add the yogurt whey to the mozz whey if you are using pasteurized milk. I've never done it and I'm not prepared to say it wouldn't help you grow harmful bacteria instead.]

So now, I just follow the ricotta making instructions you can find here, at Heavenly Homemakers. The only reasons that I don't use her mozzarella instructions are time and a lack of space in our kitchen. I would love to make a cultured mozzarella instead, so hopefully when we finally have a house with a bigger kitchen (and perhaps we have more time on our hands) that will be one of my first projects. The only thing I do differently from her ricotta recipe is generally to let the heated whey sit for half an hour (or so, if it seems more time will be needed, see below).

Now, sadly, making the ricotta this way (from the whey that has culture added, that is) is only about 66% fool-proof. Every third batch or so, the curd that separates from the why is too fine and goes through the cloth I use (I use a pillowcase, haha). If this happens to you, don't be discouraged. Try heating it all the way up to 185, and letting it sit for longer. Sometimes that works quite well. If you still have no success....maybe you should make the cultured mozzarella first (instead of the quick way), or just make your ricotta from milk! To make it from milk it is basically the same, except that in the beginning you'll be adding a teaspoon and a half of citric acid, vinegar, or lemon juice to the milk before heating it up. You can find good ricotta recipes all over the web. I have used this one, again from Ricki Carroll's collection, this one I have not used but it looked really good.

That's all for today, folks!

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