When you have a high producing family cow you quickly learn how to make cheeses. Hard cheeses can be time consuming but soft cheeses are a breeze.
One of our favorites is whole milk ricotta cheese and I want to share with you an easy way to make it and use it as well.
Let me suggest that when you buy butter muslin or fine cheesecloth for cheese making, buy the nice stuff online from a cheese making company. It will be machine washable and reusable.
You can use raw milk or store bought milk for this recipe.
Whole Milk Ricotta (makes 1 1/2 - 2 lbs)
1 gallon whole milk
1 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/4 C cool water (this will be with the canning supplies at the store)
1 tsp salt (optional)
In large pot combine milk, citric acid solution and salt and mix well.
Heat milk to 185 degrees but do not boil. Stir often to prevent scorching.
The curds and whey will separate and when they do turn off the heat. Allow pot to set, undisturbed for about 10 minutes. It's perfectly normal to start reciting "Little Miss Muffet" at this point.
Line a colander with butter muslin (very fine cheesecloth) and ladle curds into the colander.
Tie the corners of the cloth and hang the bag over a bowl to drain for about 30 minutes.
After it has drained, you can eat it right away or store it in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 weeks.
Now the only thing you have to decide is what to make with ricotta cheese?
Here are two of our favorite dinners using ricotta cheese!
Ricotta Cheese Pancakes
2C all purpose flour
1 Tb sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
2 C milk
1/2 C ricotta cheese
Sift the first 5 ingredients together. In medium bowl beat egg white until foamy. In a larger bowl beat the egg yolks, milk, ricotta cheese together until smooth. Add flour mixture and combine with spoon. Add egg whites and mix with a spoon.
Make pancakes and serve with your favorite maple syrup!
Cheese Stuffed Shells (this freezes well)
12 oz jumbo shells, cooked according to package directions
30 oz or 2 lbs ricotta cheese
2 C mozzarella cheese, grated
1 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tb dried parsley
1 Tb dried basil
1 tsp salt
3 C spaghetti sauce
In medium bowl mix together eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, 3/4 C parmesan, and spices.
Spoon about 1 Tb of mixture into each shell and arrange shells in 9x13 baking dish.
Spread sauce on shells and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.
What are your favorite uses for ricotta cheese?