Thursday, March 24, 2011

fresh ricotta

homemade ricotta 
is nothing like
what you find in the supermarket
packed tightly into tubs
with expiry dates a month long

it is naturally sweet
with creamy curds
only lasts a few days

that is the good news

it is a bit time consuming
uses quite a bit of milk
and can be a bit of a mess

last week
cannoli was on my mind
so i whipped up a pot of fresh ricotta

and when i say whipped
i mean
spent an entire day
preparing, cooking, skimming
and draining

for my birthday
my friend gave me a beautiful cookbook
"my calabria"
by rosetta costantino

rosetta shares a family recipe for ricotta
 a combination of milk and cream
it produces a large yield
perfect for 
eating with a spoon
whipped into lemon pancakes
stuffed into cannoli shells
or sharing with friends
*from my calabria
1 gallon whole milk
3/4 cup cream
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp rennet
1/4 cup cold water
place the milk and cream in heavy pan and stir to mix well. warm over heat to 200-210F.  remove from heat and add the salt. stir to dissolve.  let the milk to cool to 100F. skim any foam or skin that forms on top of the milk.  in a small bowl, mix the rennet with cold water. stir the diluted rennet into the pot of milk, then leave undisturbed until the milk has visibly thickened, about 10 minutes.
cut a large "cross" in the milk.  stir quickly with a wooden spoon for 15-20 seconds to break up the coagulated milk. using a perforated metal skimmer immersed in the milk,slowly and gently stir in one direction, so slowly that it takes about 20 seconds to make one revolution.  milk will begin to separate into curds and whey.
slowly pour off the whey through a cheesecloth lined colander, set over a bowl to drain. let stand at room temperature until whey stops dripping from the sieve.  alternately, if you have ricotta baskets, you can use those to drain the curds.  
the ricotta should be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator. it is best used within 2-3 days.
this makes about 2 lbs
* i don't throw the whey out...i use it. hubster and i use it in our smoothies and i give the dogs a bit of it in their kibble. it helps with a shiny coat. i can't say the same for us humans.


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