I decided to tick another thing off my 2015 is the Year of Dairy list. And by thing, I mean cheese.
I actually aimed to tick off Part 2 of my 3 Cottage Cheese recipe experiments (#1 being the buttermilk version), however due to a slight misunderstanding of what you can and can’t substitute in cheese recipes…
Dear Reader: I ended up making Ricotta.
Something that I only realised as I was sampling the fourth teaspoonful of my amazing cheese, trying to identify why it tasted so familiar when it was definitely too rich to be Cottage Cheese… If you look at this Fresh Ricotta recipe, you’ll see how similar the recipes are.
Although Ricotta and Cottage Cheese taste very different, they are both curd cheeses and essentially the difference between them is the type of milk used: for Cottage Cheese you use skim milk, for Ricotta you use full-cream milk. You can use either Vinegar or Lemon Juice (or Fig Milk, which is basically sap from a fig tree) to create the curds for both types of cheeses, so they are very similar.
I should preface this recipe with a note that I didn’t make Ricotta in the traditional style, where you add cream to milk, heat and then add the curdling agent. I made it in the Cottage Cheese style, where you heat the milk, add the curdling agent and once the process of straining has been completed, add cream to taste.
The accidental Ricotta recipe is based on this Quick Cottage Cheese recipe.
- 1.5L full cream milk
- 140mL of white vinegar
- Thick cream (about 1-2 tbsp)
Pop the milk into a saucepan and heat until 48.9°C. Turn off the heat, add the vinegar and stir slowly for 1-2 minutes with a large spoon. You will start to see the curds form.
Then pop the lid on the saucepan and leave for 30 minutes.
While you are waiting, pop a large chux into a colander and pop that over a bowl (You can use the whey you collect in soups in place of stock, I actually diluted mine with cool water and put it on my garden with the view that if the dregs of milk cartons is a cheap fertiliser for plants, whey might be too).
Pour the curds and whey into the chux-lined colander and leave for 5 minutes to drain. You may need to lift up the cheese in the chux occasionally to ensure you a completely draining the curds.
Then collect up the chux-ends, so you end up with a little curd ball and rinse under the cold tap. Use your fingers to move the curds around in the chux to cool all the curds and ensure they are all rinsed.
Gently squeeze to remove all the liquid, and empty the curds into a mixing bowl. Separate the curds gently with a fork or spoon.
If you plan to serve immediately, add the thick cream and stir gently.
I estimate I made about 400gm of ricotta out of this recipe and I was light on the cream at the end (the cottage cheese recipe calls for 1/2 a cup). If I had put the whole amount of cream, I probably would have had 500gm or so of ricotta.
Et voila, served with roast butternut pumpkin salad!
I’ve decided to start doing costings of these recipes to compare the quantity I made, to the cost of products I needed to buy and comparable cheese quantities in the supermarket.
- The milk cost me $4.00 and I went for the most expensive 2L of milk, in the form of the Harvey Fresh Jersey Girl milk. But I only used 1.6L for this recipe.
- The vinegar was negligible as I always have 2L containers in my pantry as I also use it for cleaning (but if I had to buy it, it would cost about $1.20 for 2L).
- The thick cream was also negligible as I had leftover cream from a dinner party (but if I had to buy it, it would cost about $2.20).
At the worst, it would cost: $7.40, but this experiment only cost me $4.00 (or the milk).
If you wanted to reduce the cost, you can get cheaper milk ($3.00/so) and you should have white vinegar in your pantry (so no need to spend $1.20) and wait until you have leftover cream to make it.
If I compare that to prices for ricotta on my local supermarket’s online site:
- $3.91 for 250gm of organic ricotta (in line with the type of milk I used)
- $4.62 for 250gm of known brand ricotta (same brand as the 500gm example below)
- $5.63 for 250gm specialty Italian ricotta
- $6.88 for 500gm of known brand ricotta
I produced about 400gm for $4.00 (but I could have produced over 500gm if I’d used the right amount of cream). Based on my experience, I’d estimate it’s cheaper by about $2.00 to make 500gm over buying it, if you’re using this recipe and vinegar and leftover thick cream are common items in your pantry.