Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Buttermilk Ricotta

Hello Mudda...
Hello Fadda...
Here I have...
Homemade ricotta!

It's nice and creamy, and pretty cheap... and almost something you can do while you're asleep.

Thank you, thank you... *bows*. I promise I will not sing anything else in this post. Really.

But seriously, this cheese is all of the above - not to mention nice and tangy, infinitely variable and one heck of a good way to use up that part-carton of buttermilk hanging out in your fridge after a batch of biscuits or a red velvet cake like what we made for my grandma's birthday a few weekends ago. Plus, you can say you made your own cheese!!

Making any sort of cheese was something I never would have considered doing at home... ever. Rennet, enzymes, bacterial culture, aging? Yikes. But cultured buttermilk has the bacterial work done for you, and since it's a fresh cheese there's no wondering whether you can commandeer the basement for a year (or 6) - it took me about 2 hours start to finish, and most of that wasn't even active work - just draining time. Given the dynamics of my household, this Italian antipasto (or toast topper if you're my mom and stepdad) should have been a no-brainer long ago - but it took a post from Tigress in a Pickle to get my butt in gear and actually try.

Let me say, not only was I thrilled with the results - having attempted this with 1% buttermilk and 1% "regular" milk, I was not sure it would fully coagulate or give me the rich texture that makes homemade manicotti or lasagne so special. But it did, lo and behold, and while my mom was originally going to use it to fill leftover pasta sheets to make dinner over the weekend, after tasting some on Melba toast the day after it was made she commandeered it for her own. She found it richer, with a better character and texture than the storebought "extra-smooth" tubs we pick up each week, and appreciated that it could be that delicious with a lot less fat than the brand name (since the commercial "light" was a little lacking in both flavour and texture for them) and no gums or thickeners either.

So, if you have a few hours, some buttermilk, and a taste for delicious fresh cheese, try making this ricotta - you will not be disappointed!

Buttermilk Ricotta
Makes 1 cup
3 cups 1% buttermilk
3/4 cup 1% milk
1/2 tsp sea salt
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and place over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture smells "cheesy" and visibly separates (you'll be able to see a clearish liquid around a mass of white).
  3. Line a fine mesh strainer with at least 4 layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl (if your stainer is big enough you can use the sink).
  4. Carefully pour the contents of the pot into the strainer, allowing the liquid to drain out.
  5. Allow cheese to sit in the cheesecloth-lined strainer for 30 minutes, then bring up the ends of the cloth and loosely tie it around a spoon set over a bowl (or the sink faucet, if you won't be using it - which is what I did).
  6. Let drain another 10-15 minutes, depending on your texture preference.
  7. Keep in the fridge up to 1 week or freeze in an airtight container for longer storage.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 94.1
Total Fat: 2.1 g
Cholesterol: 9.6 mg
Sodium: 493.1 mg
Total Carbs: 11.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 7.6 g

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