Sunday, March 1, 2009

Learning to make cheese

For the month of February we got to make ricotta cheese. I was so excited to do this challenge. I have been wanting to learn to make cheese for a long time. I was amazed at how simple the process really was. A huge thank you goes to Lauren at I'll Eat You, who hosted this month's challenge.

The challenge was two part. First we had to make the cheese. Second we had to use the cheese to make a recipe of our choice. My choice was manicotti. But first, we need to talk about the cheese.

Fresh Ricotta

you'll need:
1 gallon milk (you can use 1 percent on up, remember that the more fat in the milk, the more cheese it will yield.)
1 quart buttermilk

-cheesecloth (a good, tightly woven one, not the kind you buy at the supermarket)- If you don't have one of these, you can get by with a slotted spoon, but you may lose some of the cheese.

-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 colander. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container.

Voila! Cheese!

This is what the cheese looks like when it reaches 185 degrees. I only made a half batch for fear I would mess it up and I wanted to be sure to have something left to try again if I needed to.

Here it is hanging in the cheese cloth. I did use the cheap grocery store kind and it worked just fine. I layered it so that it was thicker and I think that made all the difference.

And finally, here is the finished cheese. It was so good. I'm sure I will make this again. It was so easy.
Here is the manicotti I made. For the filling I took the cheese I made, about 2 cups, and added 2 eggs, about 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. I then filled the cooked shells with the cheese mix, topped it with browned sweet Italian sausage and sauce. Baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and we had a great dinner.

I also used the whey to make Gjetost. It's has a very strong flavor, but very good if you like that sort of cheese. Which I do.


Christa said...

Wow!! You are an industrious little soul! It looks yummy!!

Temperance said...

great pictures. I love manicotti but have never been brave enough to try it myself, yours looks great, good job

Shawnee said...

I love, love, love manicotti and yours looks wonderful. Wasn't it fun cooking with cheese you made yourself?

Sunny said...

Your cheese looks great ... just like it should! I miss making cheese (used to use our goats milk when we had them) now my Amish neighbor has extra milk so I may be able to make it again. Looks like you did a really good job!

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