HOW TO Make Ricotta Using ONLY Whey?

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Each time when you make cheese, you end up with a lot of whey i.e., The nutritious liquid left over from curdled milk when the curds are removed. Whey contains the water-soluble proteins, vitamins, and minerals in the milk. And there are many things you can do with this leftover whey. You can use it in bread baking and soup stock, and even to cook pasta. You can even drink whey plain or sweetened. And in a pinch it can be used to ripen your cheese if you are out of culture (* You cannot use whey that has been used for Ricotta or  Paneer for this).

One of the really neat things about making cheese is that almost every time you make a hard cheese you can also make Ricotta. Ricotta is Italian, meaning  “to cook again”. It is a soft, smooth, fresh, unripened Italian cheese usually made from the whey of goat, cow or sheep milk.

Ricotta is made by using heat to precipitate – separate out the remaining albumin protein from the whey left over from making lactic acid/rennet precipitated cheeses. Usually recipes call for the use of an acid, such as vinegar in precipitating the curds. I have found, that in most cases, due to the fact that you ripen the milk as you make your hard cheese, the whey has enough acid on it’s own and does not need the extra vinegar. I also find that leaving the vinegar out creates a smoother cheese. If you use the vinegar, the cheese will tend to be slightly grainy. Ricotta is not a high yield cheese, but it is worth the effort. Many recipes call for the addition of some whole milk to increase the yield, but I find this effects the texture – makes it grainier and I do not recommend it. I prefer my Ricotta – smooth.

* Note: That you cannot make Ricotta from the whey left over from making an acid precipitated cheese such as Paneer/ Queso Blanco or whole milk Ricotta. Reason being, you have already precipitated out all the albumin protein the milk has to give using acid and heat and there is nothing left over in the remaining whey to make whey Ricotta.

You can use your homemade Ricotta in almost any recipe that calls for cottage cheese. It can be used instead of cream cheese to make cheesecake. You can also stir in some herbs and eat it on crackers.

Traditional Ricotta Recipe, using only left over Whey

Making Ricotta is very simple. Over direct heat, heat the hard cheese whey to 200°. By the time it has reached this temperature you will see very tiny white particles – the albumin protein,  floating in the whey. The heat and acid from the ripe whey has precipitated the protein. You can add a little vinegar at this point if you really think it necessary ( 1/4 Cup. per 2 gallons of whey), it is up to you as it would not affect the Ricotta.

Line a colander with very fine cheesecloth, called “butter muslin”. You must use a very fine cloth here, or your cheese will pass through the regular cloth. If you do not have fine cheesecloth, use a clean cotton cloth. Place the colander over a big pot so you can save the whey and carefully pour the whey into the colander. Be very careful because the liquid is hot. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang the ricotta to drain for a couple hours.

When it has drained, place the ricotta in a bowl and add salt to taste. You will find that the Ricotta made from the whey of different cheeses has different tastes and textures. In my opinion, Feta makes the strongest taste as the taste increases as it ages in the fridge. Whereas, Mozzarella makes the best. Your Ricotta will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!

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How To Make Queso Fresco

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Queso Fresco means Fresh Cheese and is semi-soft cheese. I prefer cheese with lots of flavor, and this Queso Fresco has many variations. Queso Fresco is of Latin American origin. It is lightly pressed and ready to eat in just a few days.

Correct temperatures are very important in cheese making, so ensure to use a good thermometer. The easiest way to control the temperature of the curds is to use a homemade double boiler. Place the cheese making pot into the canning kettle and place on the stove. Fill the canner with water up to the level of the milk in the cheese making pot. Then place a thermometer in the water of the canner as well as the milk. This way you can tell the temperature of the water, which in turn, helps you control the temperature of the milk and curds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 gallons of unpasteurized goat milk

  • 4 oz. mesophilic culture

  • 1/4 tsp. calf lipase powder (mild “piccante”)

  • 1/2 tsp. Liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 Cup water

  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt .

Bring the milk to 86° and add the mesophilic culture and lipase. Stir well and let set, to ripen, for 1 hour. Add the rennet and stir briskly for 15 seconds. Cover the pot and let the milk set for 45 minutes, or until you get a clean break. Hold the milk at a temperature of 86° for the entire time.

Cut the curds into 1/4″ pieces with a stainless steel knife. This always seem to be the trickiest part of cheese making, but take your time, and don’t worry if all the curds are not cut to exactly 1/4″. After you have cut the curds, do not stir them yet. Let them rest, undisturbed for 10 minutes

Now, you can stir the curds and cut any that you had missed. If you stir the curds with a big wire whisk, this will cut any curds you missed automatically. Raise the temperature of the curds to 95° over the next 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the curds do not stick together. Let the curds settle for 5 minutes, undisturbed.

Drain the whey from the curds. You can conserve drained whey and use for whey based cheese making like Ricotta. Now, leave the curds in their cheese making pot that is placed inside the canner. Make sure the water in the canner is kept at 95° and this will allow you to hold the curds at a temperature of 95°. Hold the curds at 95° for 10 minutes, stirring with your hand occasionally so that the curds don’t stick together.

After you have held the curds for at 95° for 10 minutes, stir in the salt. At this point in the cheese making you could spice up your cheese by adding some herbs, such as chives, or even minced jalapena peppers, if you’d like.

Line a cheese mold with cheesecloth and add the curds. Press the cheese at 10 pounds for 10 minutes, remove it from the press, flip it over and place it back in the press. Continue pressing at 20 pounds for 1 hours and then raise the weight to 35 pounds for 6 hours.

After it has pressed for six hours, remove the cheese from the mold and let it air dry on a rack overnight. The next day, put it in a ziploc bag or wrap it and refrigerate the cheese for several days before testing. Honestly, it is worth the wait. If you taste the cheese too soon, it may seem “rubbery”. Additionally, the flavor will develops during the short “aging” process. Queso Fresco cheese will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. Previous experience proved that this cheese does not freeze well.

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How To Enjoy Paneer

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Now that you have this rubbery ball of cheese, what do you do with it or how do you enjoy it? Paneer is like tofu,  it will take on the flavor of the food it is cooked with. Just cut it into bite-sized cubes and throw it into chili or spaghetti.  If you love pasta cooked in whey you can always save whey just for this purpose. Try serving your chili over vermicelli cooked in whey, topped with a sprinkle of cheese, some sprouts and a dollop of goat yogurt.

You could use Paneer as a meat extender or replacement. If you are a vegetarian, you can use a lot of Paneer. You make “chicken a la king” using cubes of Paneer instead of meat. A quick dinner is mac’n cheese, made from a box, but also add onions, Paneer cubes, peas and buttermilk. When you make taco meat, cut it up in tiny cubes and simmer it with the meat for about an hour.

You can also marinade Paneer and throw it on top of salads or use it in stir-fry. Paneer is really in its element when used in curry. Serve the curry over rice cooked with whey instead of water and add a handful of raisins and a clove to the rice as well to make it really authentic.

There are endless uses for Paneer, so make some of this quick and easy cheese and experiment for yourself. Enjoy!

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How To Store Fresh Goat Milk

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Glass is the best storage to store fresh  goat milk because it is easily cleaned and sterilized. Use 1 quart wide mouth mason jars and gallon glass jars (1 gallon pickle jars). I would suggest the wide mouth jars because you can fit your hand into them and really scrub them and get them clean. Use quart mason jars to store if you do not have so much milk to store. Otherwise, go for bigger jars if you have so much milk to store. Do not use plastic container for storage. Plastic cannot be properly cleaned and sterilized. Never reuse milk jugs from the store; they cannot be cleaned well enough at all and will contaminate your fresh milk.

How to store fresh goat milk for use during the winter?

All you have to do is just pour the fresh milk (still warm from the goat) into new quart Ziploc freezer bags and stack them in the freezer. Use REAL Ziploc bags because “off brands” tend to leak. Do not freeze in glass! Glass is extremely dangerous, it can break very easily in the freezer – as the milk expands when it freezes. Never freeze in milk jugs from the store; they cannot be cleaned well enough at all and will contaminate your milk. When you thaw your milk (in the Ziploc bags) be ready for the bags to leak, they normally do. Put the bags in a dish as you thaw the milk. I thaw in the fridge and sometimes in the microwave. Thawed milk can have clumps in it but, it is nothing to worry about. I find that frozen milk will keep fine for 6 – 8 months in the deep freeze.

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