I really try to get the most out of everything when it comes to cooking and food. So when I saw a recipe on the Fias Co Farm site for making ricotta cheese out of the whey that is leftover when you make a lactic acid or rennet precipitated cheese, I was all about trying it. So the last few times I've made my soft cheese, I've done just that. This is extremely easy. The downside is that you really don't get a lot of ricotta out of a quart of whey. But this is too simple of a process not to still make the ricotta... plus the resulting ricotta tastes awesome! I've just been adding it to a container that I've been keeping in my freezer until I get enough to use in a recipe. I've finally got enough to use and cannot wait to try it next week in a recipe!
Traditional Ricotta Cheese (made from whey)
You will need:
whey leftover from making a lactic acid or rennet precipitated cheese
stainless steel saucepan
large bowl or pot into which the colander fits
2 pieces of 90-count cheesecloth or butter muslin
Pour the whey into a saucepan and heat to 200 degrees. Once you reach this temperature, you should see very tiny white particles (the albumin protein) floating in the whey. You may add a little vinegar at this point if you'd like (1/4 cup per 2 gallons of whey). It's up to you, some people do and some people don't. I've done it both ways and have not really noticed much of a difference. Adding the vinegar supposedly makes the texture of the ricotta a little more grainy, but I really haven't noticed it.
Line a colander with very fine cheesecloth/butter muslin. I fold mine in quarters so I have 8 layers (between the 2 pieces) of cloth. You really need a really fine cloth because the cheese will pass right through if you don't. Place the colander over a big bowl or pot so you can save the whey for soups or baking bread. Carefully pour the hot whey through the cheesecloth lined colander.
Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang the ricotta to drain for 2-4 hours.
When it has finished draining, put the ricotta in a bowl and add salt to taste. Ricotta will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze it until you have enough to use in a recipe.
This post is participating in Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.