Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Homemade Cheese Spread

I had some milk that was getting a few days old, so I took the cream off of it. We will either make butter with it or use it in ice cream. I think I can guess how my guys will vote. =) I call it ricotta cheese and I use it in any recipe calling for ricotta. It is not a true ricotta however. Real ricotta is made from the whey of mozzarella cheese. I heat the milk to 140 degrees. Then I add about 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar. I stir and stir and stir. If the milk does not separate, then I add another dollop of vinegar. Then I stir and stir and stir. I keep repeating this until you see the curds separate from the clear yellowish whey. The reason I really emphasized the stirring is you want to use as little vinegar as possible to make the curds separate. It keeps the vinegar flavor down. The stirring makes sure that you mix the vinegar all throughout the cheese. Then I drain off the whey and let the cheese sit in a colander to drain. Here is a picture of it in the colander. I had just turned it over, so you see the little bumps on top.

Once it is sufficiently drained, then I put it in a bowl. At this point, there are several things you can do with it. You can salt it a bit and use it as ricotta cheese. It freezes really well too. You can add honey or agave nectar to it and then use it as a cheese filling for danish or to spread on toast. I still add a wee bit of salt to bring out the flavor. What I normally do is add salt, garlic and Italian spices. I use this mixture as ricotta in baked ziti or lasagna. You can also use it as a cheese spread for crackers or bread. We also put some of it on our salads in place of feta. It has a softer texture than feta, but if you wanted it a bit firmer, just let the milk heat a bit more. The higher the heat, the more firmer/rubbery the cheese will be. I put some of this batch in my butter mold/press and made what you see below. The rest went into the freezer for some future use.

We went into the coop last night and checked out all the chickens. We ended up getting rid of 8 of them. We prayed before we did it that we would choose the right ones.


LadySnow said...

That looks so yummy!

VoiceInTheWilderness said...

That's some beautiful cheese! I've always been interested in cheese-making, and even tried it, but I failed. Yes, I am a cheese failure! But I had lots of fun trying it.

Theresa said...

This is what I would like to get into learning next - making cheeses. I wish we lived by you and could purchase some of your raw milk. It costs $7.99 for a half gallon here. I have wanted the cream to try and make butter but they put it in a container with a one inch opening which makes it kind of hard to access. Do you have any recommendations of websites or books for beginning cheese making and other dairy foods?