We get a gallon of raw milk each week from Windsor Dairy and this week, due to our camping trip, we had a little extra. So last night, I made a little over a half-gallon of milk into ricotta cheese. I keep trying to make mozzarella, and just wasn’t up to it because of the 10 pounds of green beans we needed to blanch & freeze from our co-op adventures last week. But ricotta is so easy!
- Pour a gallon of milk into a non-cast iron/non-aluminum pot, add 1 tsp salt (I have cheese salt, but I’ve read that any non-iodized salt–like pickling salt or sea salt–will work), and 1 tsp of citric acid. An interesting note for those of you who have been trying to make cheese like I have: I read that fresh farm milk needs more citric acid!! So if you’re using raw milk or other farm-fresh milk rather than something from the grocery store, you may want to double the citric acid.
- Heat the milk slowly to 195 degrees, stirring just often enough to prevent burning the milk. As it gets closer to 195, you will see the curd separate from the whey.
- At 195, remove from heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. At this point, you can do one of two things:
- For a very dry ricotta, spoon the curds off into a cheese cloth to drain.
- If you want more ricotta, or don’t mind it a bit more wet, you can spoon the curds off, drain, and then pour the rest through cheese cloth to get the last little bit of curd.
- That’s it! Put the ricotta into an airtight container and refrigerate if you can keep yourself from eating it with a spoon. Oh, and don’t forget to use the whey to feed your tomato plants or to make some yummy buttermilk pancakes (use whey instead of buttermilk!).
The following recipe, adapted slightly from the River Cafe‘s Green cookbook, is a bit time-consuming once you’ve podded & cooked the peas, made the ricotta, and heated the stock, but if you’re entertaining and looking for something delicious to serve that is both local and very home-made, this recipe is for you. I usually only make this once or twice a year, and it’s memorable every time.
Recipe: Pea, Ricotta & Lemon Zest Risotto
3lb fresh peas (1.5 pounds podded) (I’m going to try this with a mix of peas and broad beans, which will take a bit more cooking in the boiling water than what the peas will!)
250 g ricotta cheese, lightly beaten
finely grated rind of 2 lemons
6 c. chicken stock
3 cloves of garlic
200g unsalted butter
500g spring onions
400g arborio or carnaroli rice
2 T fresh basil
150ml white wine
salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the chicken stock to boiling and check for salt & pepper.
- Bring a saucepan of water to boil, add 2 t salt, the peas, and a clove of garlic. Simmer for 3-4 minutes & drain, reserving 150ml of water.
- Melt 150g of the butter in a large saucepan, and add onions to soften.
- Add the remaining garlic, then the rice, stirring to coat each grain of rice in the butter, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the wine and stir until the rice is almost dry, 1-2 minutes.
- Add a ladle of hot stock and stir, adding another when the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
- Continue stirring and adding stock for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is not quite soft.
- Add half the peas and stir.
- Mash the other half with the garlic and liquid in a food processor and add to the risotto.
- Stir in the basil, 2 T of ricotta, and the remaining butter and cook until the basil is wilted and the butter melted.
- Serve garnished with the remaining ricotta, lemon zest, salt, pepper & Parmesan.