Cheese is one of my favorite things to make. I doubt this comes as any sort of surprise to anyone. What many people ask me is "What do you do with the whey [the liquid left behind from the cheese making process] that is leftover?" Well, the answer is "Lots of things". Whey can be used to make more cheese. Specifically, Ricotta and Gjetost (or Brunost, meaning "brown cheese" as it is called in it's native Norway). Due to whey's high protein content, I also like to add it to breakfast smoothies. You can also use it in breads and soups/stocks.
Making homemade Ricotta is very simple, and takes very little time. All you need is fresh whey leftover from making cheese, cheesecloth or butter muslin, a thermometer, salt and Citric Acid. The addition of extra milk for a richer cheese is optional. You can use whey from any kind of milk, not just cow's.
To make Ricotta from Whey:
- Use whey directly from the cheese pot at the time of draining . The fresher the better.
- Heat without agitating to 160° F At this point 5-12% of fresh milk may be added to improve the richness and yield.
- Continue heating to 170° F. Add 1/2 tsp. of salt per gallon of liquid and mix in quickly.
- Continue heating without agitation to 185° F.
- Mix 1/2 tsp. of citric acid per gallon of liquid. The citric acid should be dissolved in 1/2 cup water. Add quickly to the pot and stir briskly for 5-10 seconds.
Watch the curd forming small flakes and gradually larger curd masses.
Add a bit more more citric acid solution if necessary.
NOTE.. If too much acid is added, the curds will sink to the bottom and the cheese will not be sweet. The correct amount of acid will produce a clear separation of white curds and bright green whey.
- As the curds rise, use a perforated ladle to gently move them from the sides to the center of the pot. These clumps of curd will begin to consolidate floating on top of the liquid.
Let the curds rest for 10-15 min. *** This is very important because this is the point where the final Ricotta quality is assured
- Ladle the curds gently into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Tie the corners together with kitchen twine to form a bag. Hang the bag over a bowl. Let the curds drain for 15 min up to several hours.
For a fresh light ricotta, drain it for a short while (until the free whey drainage slows) and chill to below 50F. For a rich, dense and buttery texture allow it to drain for an extended period of time (several hours). before chilling overnight
Move to a refrigerator or cold room. Consume within 10 days
Now you ask, what happens to the leftover whey from the Ricotta? Well...at my house it means a protein-rich treat for the kids! Cats and dogs love it too!