"This recipe and all the variations except for the cream cheese, work with 1%, 2%, and whole milk, which of course makes the richest cheese. If you have access to fresh milk, you'll get the best flavor using it. This is also a great way to get rid of that last half of that jug of milk before it goes bad." JD Provence.
I would like to thank JD for delving into this and writing up everything and testing out all that he did. I cannot wait to make fresh ricotta for not only my lasagnas but, my lemon ricotta cake and other baked goods. Not to mention fresh cream cheese for my homemade english muffins. ~Enjoy! Diane
Quick and Easy, Fresh Cheese
(1) Before starting, line a strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth or a piece of un-dyed cotton muslin. (a clean, white dish towel works great!) Have a long piece of cotton string ready.
For ricotta and cottage cheese, a fine mesh, plastic sieve works fine, cheesecloth and string is not necessary. Just let it cool to a touchable temperature before pouring into sieve.
Diane Note: if you have a jelly bag and a sieve that can rest over a larger bowl, that works great too.
(2) Put the milk in a large, heavy bottomed, non-reactive saucepan over medium low heat. Warm, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the milk begins to simmer and foam forms on top, about 10 minutes.
Diane Note: if you have an instant read thermometer, bring the milk up to 190 degrees before adding in the acid,
(3) Add the buttermilk, or acid, if choosing to go that way, to the boiling milk all at once and stir gently until the mixture separates into curds and whey. This should take a minute or 2. Remove from heat and stir in a large pinch, up to a teaspoon of salt, if you like.
Diane Note: Let pot sit off the heat, uncovered for 20-30 minutes
(4) Carefully pour the mixture through the strainer so that the curds collect in the bottom and the whey drains off. Gather up the corners of the cloth or jelly bag and twist the top to start shaping the curds into a ball. Run the bundle under cold water until you can handle it. Keep twisting and squeezing until the bundle feels firm and dry. Don't worry about handling it roughly, it can take it. Just don't squeeze so hard that the cheese oozes out through the pores of the cloth.
(5) Tie the string around the top to hold it tight, then tie the string around the handle of a long spoon or stick to suspend over the pot to drain. Let it rest, undisturbed, until cool and set, about 90 minutes.
Diane Note: If using a jelly bag, hang to drip-dry on jelly stand.
(6) Remove the cloth and serve immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate up to a week, or freeze up to 6 months.
Fresh Cottage Cheese. Drain as dry or as moist as you like. Follow the recipe through Step 3. In Step 4, after you pour the it through the cheesecloth, simply leave the curds loose in the strainer until they've drained the amount of moisture you desire, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Then scoop the curds into a container and store in the fridge up to a week, or freeze up to 6 months. *Add 1 Tbs cream to the final product if you like a moist cottage cheese
Fresh Ricotta Cheese. Reduce the amount of buttermilk to 1 pint, or use 3 Tbsp acid and proceed with the recipe through Step 3. In Step 4, after you pour it though the strainer, simply leave the ricotta in the strainer until it has reached the texture you like, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Gently scoop or dump into container and store in fridge for up to a week, or freeze up to 6 months.
Fresh Cream Cheese. Use 1 quart of heavy cream instead of the milk and reduce the buttermilk to 1 pint or use 3 Tbsp acid.
Fresh Goat Cheese. Substitute goat milk for the cow milk and 1 pint goat's milk yogurt, citrus juice of vinegar for the buttermilk.
Powdered Milk Cheese. Yes, you can make cheese from reconstituted powdered milk, I tried and it worked. The curds looked like scrambled eggs. It formed a nice tight ball of cheese, and it tastes like powdered milk. To me, powdered milk tastes like a cardboard box , and the cheese is no different. I tried it for this article, and it's not something I would make again. On the brighter side, my little 4 legged sous chef taste tester loved it!
Chocolate Cheese. Okay, just for the sake of the article, I made some cheese from Chocolate Milk. The cheese is smooth and chocolaty, but without the sweetness. I think this would be a great dessert topping or filling for chocolate coated truffles.
Recipes by: JD Provence for Canning and Cooking at Home