Monday, August 11, 2008

coming full circle with cheese, well, sort of

When I was a pre-teen, I was in a musical at summer school about the Pied Piper.  One of my roles was the cheesemaker.  I had a line about the rats that were taking over the town jumping into my cheesemaking vat.  I don't think it was ever made explicitly clear that the a)  the vat was for making cheese (except in the stage diretions) or that b) I was a cheesemaker (again, except in the script) so I suppose I could have also been a brewer or a laundress or something else.   You can tell how pivotal my role was to the plot.  I promise there is a point to this story. 

My being a cheesemaker is pivotal to this post however, as I will be instructing you all in the craft of making the delicious creamy stuff. I've mastered the art of ricotta, which is the easiest and most versatile cheese in my opinion as it can be eaten for breakfast, used in desserts, as well as the regularly old cheesy goodness.  I haven't yet mastered the firmer cheeses, but we're working on it with the help of Ricki Carrol, cheese goddess extraordinare and her Home Cheese Making guide. 

For those of you who are curious about making your own cheese, I stongly suggest trying it, and starting with ricotta.  It requires minimal equiptment and effort, and the results are much better then what you by at the regular supermarket and cheaper then buying fresh at the specialty market.  

Fresh Ricotta

you'll need:
-milk (you can use 1 percent on up, remember that the more fat in the milk, the more cheese it will yeild.)
you can make any quantity as long as you stick to a 1 part buttermilk to 4 parts milk ratio.  For example, 1 quart buttermilk to one gallon milk. 

-cheesecloth (a good, tightly woven one, not the kind you buy at the supermarket)
-a thermometer (mine is for oil and candy)

Place buttermilk and milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees. 
 It will begin to separate into curds and whey.  Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom and burn.  You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined collander.  Tie the ends of the chesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes.  

Salt cheese to taste, if desired.  Serve as desired, for example with berries and agave syrup, as pitured here!

1 comment:

La belle Aurore said...

Thank you for sharing this way of making ricotta. I just made some today and oh, it is wonderful and so easy to make. I have been thinking of making cheese for few years now. It is the time now to jump into cheesemaking and do it.