If you’re anything like me, trying new recipes and saving money are motivations to start a new hobby. I’ve made cheeses of many types- Feta, Gruyere, Cheddar, and Mozzarella… But for those adventurous beginners, Ricotta is the perfect cheese with which to start. Here are 4 reasons you should make this today!
1. Its Cold Outside
In the middle of February, all my food adventures are inside. I have idle time not planting or harvesting for another several weeks. For someone who wants to live off the land, I’d rather try new things when the garden is under a crisp layer of snow and can do it from the comfort of home. Making ricotta cheese is quick, simple and comfortable (over a hot stove). And you have everything you need to start now!
2. You Have Plenty of Milk
My in-laws are crazy about milk so we stock the fridge for holiday gatherings, birthday and Super Bowl parties. I’ve been known to freeze some milk into ice trays to add to smoothies and sauces later, but when you have gallons on hand, rendering this into cheese was my perfect excuse.
You bought too much
Seniors, those living alone or with a roommate might find consuming the entire gallon is diffiucult before it expires. My friend Katie buys a gallon of milk for herself and husband, usually wondering how to quickly use up the last of it before it goes bad.
Milk is inexpensive
According to the USDA’s report this week, the average half gallon of conventional milk costs $2.14. A half gallon of organic milk is $3.49. However, with some searching, it is not difficult to find deals at half that cost.
Hyvee sells their That’s Smart brand milk at very low cost. Per gallon, skim is $1.99, 1% and 2% is $2.10 and whole milk is $2.39. No longer having Milk Mondays, HyVee promises this cost throughout the week!
Our Food Pantry is well stocked
If you are one of the 100,00 South Dakotans who qualify as food insecure, Feeding South Dakota‘s numerous food pantries are ready to help provide milk. Thanks to a generous donation from the Sioux Falls Hy-Vee Stores, KBAD radio, and Dean Foods Company, 10,300 gallons were donated to the Sioux Falls Food Pantry. Four hundred gallons of milk will be delivered to the Sioux Falls Pantry each week now through May 2017. This donation will ensure that every family who visits the food pantry will receive at least one gallon of milk per visit.
3. Ricotta Is Easy To Make
Follow Three Simple Steps
- Heat Milk to 185 degrees F- If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry! Heat the milk until it foams at the sides of the pan and starts simmering, but doesn’t boil.
- Add acid of your choice- for every gallon, use 1 tsp citric acid OR 2/3 cup lemon juice OR 2/3 cup white vinegar. You should see ricotta cheese emerging right away!
- Strain curds (ricotta) and whey through fine cheese cloth laid over a strainer- if you don’t have cheese cloth, easy substitutes include a coffee filter, man’s handkerchief, or paper towels
Buy a kit
I first started making cheese after my friend Alison gifted me a cheese making kit. it should be no surprise that almost all the kits start with the simplest cheese instruction- ricotta being one of them. If you prefer a boxed kit complete with manual and ingredients, here are my favorite kits to order:
Urban Cheesecraft– love her one hour cheese book and her kits are perfect for beginners.
Mad Millie– based in New Zealand, you can purchase this kit in the US though Uncommon Goods. She has tutorials on-line.
Check out Pinterest
Type in “Ricotta” and Pinterest will reveal beautiful “how to’s” with pretty pictures and simple instructions. I will give you my version, but take no offense if you check out other sources.
4. Ricotta is Delicious
Initially my problem was: What do I do with 2 extra gallons of milk? But now I had a new problem: What do I do with a gallon of ricotta cheese?!? Admittedly I asked my closest friends and family to help with favorite recipes to incorporate the cheese into breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. Here’s how we used it up!
- 1 pound (about 12 to 13 slices) bacon, preferably thick-cut
- 25 Medjool dates (about 3/4 pound)
- 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Cut the bacon in half lengthwise to make twice as many slices.
Place the ricotta in the bottom corner of a strong plastic bag and seal tightly. Use scissors to cut a small hole in the tip of 1 of the corners. Now use the bag like a piping bag to fill the dates with the cheese.
Wrap the ricotta stuffed dates with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick through the belly of the date. Arrange all the prepared dates on a parchment-lined baking sheet, allowing at least a little space between each one for good browning. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until bacon is browned and crispy. Remove from the baking sheet and gently remove toothpicks. Serve immediately.
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided1 teaspoon grated orange rind1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon fat-free buttermilk, divided2 tablespoons canola oil4.5 ounces whole-grain pastry flour (about 1 cup)3.4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)1 tablespoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon salt4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted1 large egg, lightly beatenPreheat to 425 degrees
Combine cherries and juice in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute; let stand 5 minutes. Drain; discard liquid. Finely chop cherries.Combine ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, rind, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture. Add 1/3 cup buttermilk and canola oil to remaining ricotta mixture, stirring until smooth.Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cherries and almonds; toss. Add buttermilk mixture; stir just until combined.Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine egg and remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk, stirring with a whisk. Gently brush top and sides of dough with egg mixture. Bake at 425° for 15 to 16 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool slightly on a wire rack.Beat the reserved ricotta mixture at medium speed 3 minutes or until fluffy. Serve with warm scones.
Small Batch Vanilla Ricotta Pancakes
Yield: 6-8 small pancakes
4 oz. ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 egg, separated
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
Mix together ricotta cheese, milk, vanilla, and egg yolk in a bowl until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
Gradually add flour mixture to cheese mixture until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until frothy. Add to mix and stir mixture until smooth.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with a nonstick spray or melt 1 T. butter in pan.
Using a large spoon, drop two spoonfuls (for each pancake) of mix on to hot skillet. Allow to cook about 2-3 minutes or until mix begins to bubble, then flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes on the other side. Continue until all batter has been used.
Serve with your choose of pancake toppings!
- 8 ounces whole wheat short pasta, I used farfalle
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 11.5 ounce package t’mates cocktail size tomatoes, about 8-10 tomatoes, quartered
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- ⅓ cup fresh basil, slivered
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheeseCook the whole wheat pasta about 1 minute less than the package directions, so pasta is done but al dente. Drain and reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water.In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the minced garlic and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 5 minutes until oil becomes fragrant. Be sure to watch the garlic so it doesn’t burn. Add the tomatoes and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until warmed through.Add the drained hot pasta to the tomatoes with the fresh spinach. Toss and cook until spinach begins to wilt. Add the fresh basil leaves, grated parmesan cheese and more kosher salt and pepper to taste. If the pasta seems dry, add more olive oil or 1-2 tablespoons of pasta water to the pasta mixture. Top with dollops of fresh ricotta, drizzle with more olive oil and serve.
Glean for Good would love to hear how you have already tried this, took our advice, or have other wisdom to share. Please like, comment and share this article if you like it!