How to make basic ricotta
When you want to show off, make a cheese, it’s really easy, and people simply won’t believe you didn’t buy it.
And what is more it is really really cheap, and it’s gorgeous. And what is more you will probably do it for ever, once you have started.
I blame Winston Churchill
It was wartime and my Great Grandmother lived in the centre of Manchester and her husband (we don’t talk about him that much) was a black shirt (you know, one of Oswald Mosley’s lot – British Fascists) and no one would employ him, so they didn’t have much cash.
Winston Churchill said the country was short of food, and the cheese ration was meagre – but granny couldn’t afford it anyway! So granny, who was a Salvationist, decided to take economics into her own hands. She ‘borrowed’ milk from her neighbours, collected a couple of pints and then simply let it ‘go off’. The result was cheese – smelly cheese at that, but once washed it was fine. Her washing line was well known for having great granddad’s shirts cut up into cloths to drain cheese!
That is one of the ancient ways of making cheese, using the acid caused by the growingbacteria in the milk to form curds – and we still make ricotta and paneer, and mascarpone and queso blanco this way.
You will need a large pan, and cooker to heat the milk.
You will need either a colander, a ricotta mould or a slotted strainer of some kind.
You will need a spoon – preferably two spoons, a wooden one for stirring and a slotted one for collecting the curds.
2 litres of full fat milk
120 ml double cream
60 ml white vinegar
Mix the cream and milk, and heat the milk to 93C
This doesn’t have to be accurate. Obviously the milk is really hot, and as you stir it, and as it nears boiling, the back of the spoon will get a coating on it, and the milk looks as though it was just ready to boil. Then it is ready.
Add the cream
Actually, you can add the cream at any time, or you can omit it altogether. If you do omit the cream, the cheese will be a little harder, and will resemble panneer. This is good for making into a haloumi type of cheese.
Stir for a couple of minutes then add the vinegar stirring all the time. You will see curds forming all the time. Turn off the heat and keep stirring for a while and then, after a couple of minutes, stop. Ladle into a mould or a colander or a cheesecloth to drain.
Leave overnight and then you have ricotta.
You can either salt or sweeten the cheese. Sweetened, it makes a brilliant cheesecake. You can add all kinds of flavours to the sweetened cheese, from fruit to chocolate. From 4.5 litres of milk you will get over a kilo of cheese – it will be fairly moist cheese, ideal if you are using it as ricotta.