You ‘Cotta’ try this ‘whey’ of making cheese

You’d think that after being married to me for nearly seven years, Joey would stop making quizzical faces at me when I announce my plans for my next culinary experiment, but I got the look again this week when I told him that I was planning to make homemade ricotta cheese.

He was intrigued, stopping by the kitchen every 10 minutes or so to see my progress. In the end, I managed to get a decent amount of cheese out of my experiment, almost filling a 30-ounce container, and when I did the math, I figured it cost me around $3.60 to make it all, which made it at least a dollar cheaper than what I can normally find in the store. Plus, there are plenty of uses for the leftover whey, too, making it have even more bang for its buck.

I found this on the blog “Mel’s Kitchen.” You can read the original directions at https://www.melskitchencafe.com/homemade-ricotta-cheese/. I didn’t change the recipe, but I will give you a few other instructions that I found helpful as I muddled my way through this.

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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

8 cups milk (I used 2-percent.)

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon coarse salt (or a scant teaspoon of regular salt)

1/3 cup distilled white vinegar

Directions

Combine the milk, cream and salt in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Monitor the heat level with a thermometer and keep heating slowly, stirring regularly to keep it from scalding, until it reaches a solid 180 degrees.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vinegar. The mixture will immediately begin to separate. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

If you have cheesecloth, the author suggests using it to line a colander for the next step. If not, I do not recommend using coffee filters as the author does (it did not work at all when I tried it). Instead, use a colander with the smallest holes you have and strain the cheese mixture a few times to get as much of the congealed cheese out as you can.

Let it just sit and drain in the colander for as long as it takes for the cheese to reach the texture you want. (Mine took 20 minutes or so.)

Refrigerate the cheese in a sealed container for up to about a week. Also save the leftover whey for other uses.

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As a side note: if your whey is not a yellowish color and still seems to have some more cream in it, once you’re done straining the cheese out of the liquid, heat the whey up again to the 180 mark and splash just a bit more vinegar in, let it set and strain it again. I got at least another half cup of cheese doing that.

Lindsey Young is managing editor of The Clarion, the Kansas Publishing Ventures newspaper in Andale. She can be reached at lindseyclarion@gmail.com.