Recipe: Fast Ricotta Cheese
Making cheese at home may seem like a time and labor-intensive process, but what if you could make a delicious, high-quality cheese in about one hour? According to David Asher, author of The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, you can.
This version of ricotta is made by adding acidity to sweet whey in the form of lemon juice or vinegar, just as in the making of a paneer. A slower and more traditional (and more delicious and better-textured) ricotta can be made by allowing the sweet whey to ferment for a day and develop the acidity it needs to separate its remaining cheese.
Recipe: Fast Ricotta
1 gallon (4L) fresh whey, preferably more
1/4 cup (60mL) vinegar per gallon whey or 1/2 cup (120mL) lemon juice
2-gallon (8L) stainless pot
Ladle or slotted spoon
Large stainless bowl
Between 4 and 8 ounces (100-225g) ricotta per gallon whey
Bring the whey to a boil: Pour the whey into the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Don’t worry about stirring the whey – it will not burn on the bottom of the pot. But pay attention to the whey as it gets hot: Once it comes to a boil, it can boil over and cause quite a mess!
Pour in the vinegar or lemon juice as the whey is boiling. Don’t bother stirring it; the boiling whey will mix the acid in thoroughly.
Let the whey come to a full rolling boil again, but only for a moment. The high temperatures help to ensure a full ricotta yield.
Let the whey cool for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the whey settle. You should begin to see signs of separation: The whey will become clearer and more greenish yellow, and there will be fluffy clouds of ricotta curd that have coagulated out of it. Let the whey cool for 5 minutes to help the ricotta firm up.
Strain the ricotta: Using a ladle or a slotted spoon (depending on the type of whey and the quality of milk, the curds may be easier to harder to strain), scoop up the ricotta that has risen to the top of the pot, and transfer it to a cheesecloth-lined colander perched on the stainless steel bowl.
Let the ricotta drain and cool. Ricotta is best savored while still slightly warm. Once cooled, it should be kept refrigerated.
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