Like anything in life; gin, men, beef, to name a few, there’s the usual, the standard, the ordinary and then there’s top shelf.
I’ve never been a Ricotta connoisseur. Back home in Australia we are blessed with a myriad of cheeses; both imported and locally grown soft, oozy Brie, Camembert and stinky Livarot to hard Parmigiano Reggiano and aged, bitey Cheddar. And who can resist fried Haloumi wedged between lamb or simply dressed with a splash of lemon or the nutty, velvety texture of a sweet Emmental. Then we have a range of Feta cheese ranging from hard, crumbly and salty Greek Feta to creamy Danish Feta.
But Ricotta. It was always a hard, dried out cake-shaped catastrophe in the deli section of the supermarket or a watery mess in the pre-packaged section. Never was it a thick, rich, creamy luxury that demanded to be spread on a crispbread or the highlight of a salad.
And then I moved to South Korea, where dairy products run second to soy-based products, I’m guessing due to the high incidence of lactose intolerance. However, locally produced Korean cheese is predominantly produced as ‘Pizza Cheese’ which can be described as a fluorescent yellow, greasy, plasticy atrocity. Consequently, a decent, quality imported cheese ranges anywhere from ₩10,000 to ₩34,000. I’m not sure why, but imported food products have ludicrous taxes and markups here. Don’t even get me started on fruit. That’s a whole other post.
But, I digress.
Due to an intense craving for Feta cheese, albeit refusing to pay ₩10,000 for a mid-range quality cheese, I scoured the internet and stumbled across easy recipes for soft, white cheeses. Mainly Ricotta.
And, then, I found the Aston Martin of Ricotta. This Ricotta changed my life.
So, one Friday night, on the eve of a friend’s Saturday shindig, I decided to play cheese-god and forgo all social credibility to stay home and make cheese. And it is probably one of the best Friday night decisions I have made..
Never again will I even consider buying Ricotta, when it is so amazingly simple and quick to produce a batch with only 4 ingredients. Recipe adapted from here at Smitten Kitchen, via Salvatore Brooklyn. Be sure to check out this beautiful video as well from Salvatore Brooklyn to appreciate the entire process.
Photo’s of my cheese production will follow, both times I never considered I would end up blogging about my fucking cheese endeavours, hence no actual cheese making photos.
Ingredients (for 2 cups of Ricotta)
12 cups milk (I used skim 1.5%)
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup lemon juice (I used 3 lemons)
(You can halve or even quarter quantities, however once you’ve tasted it, you’ll also be trying to make as much of it as you can)
1. Place milk, cream and salt in a large saucepan. Can fill very close to top as it will not boil and expand.
2. With a thermometer, heat milk to 88°C. This breaks down the proteins and whey in the milk.
3. Immediately take off heat and pour in lemon juice. Stir very gently twice.
4. Let stand for 10minutes and resist all urges to stir or poke around and see what’s happening! A thick layer of white curds should have formed on the top.
5. Gently pour curds and whey into a large, deep bowl lined with cheesecloth (alternatively I use a white t-shirt but stockings are ok too, just make sure they are light or neutral coloured, I used teal tights once with yogurt which produced an interesting coloured whey – yogurt was fine) I use a very large glass jar with the t-shirt secured over the opening with some rubber bands.
6. Let strain for 3-4 hours until you have a thick ball of beautiful Ricotta!
I realise photos are essential for the first-time cheese maker and will upload when I make some next, scheduled for the next 3 weeks.
I don’t eat bread, however spread this on my homemade gluten-free crackers (recipe to follow), vegetables, drop spoonfuls onto salad, eat as dessert with a handful of blueberries and almonds or use in hazelnut chocolate spread. I may or may not have indulged in it by the (tea)spoonful aswell. Hey, I live alone alright.