Cheesepalooza #1: Low Fat Ricotta
Just as I got into the swing of home cheese making I was hit with the news that I had to reduce the bad fat that I cook with and feed my husband in order to try and reduce his cholesterol level. There goes my cheese making, unless I can find a way of making it slightly healthier.
The idea behind Cheesepalooza is to teach yourself to make cheese at home, with an online community of home cheese makers and the awesome book Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin. The book is thoughtfully arranged in chapters that allow you to build on your skills gradually, starting with the quick and easy fresh cheeses.
The first suggestion is to make whole milk ricotta. I have made ricotta before, using my own recipe adapted from a few variations I found online, but the point of this challenge is to do it the Karlin way. In order to enjoy the cheese I did have to adapt the recipe slightly. Even with the light milk, cheese has a fairly high amount of fat, so as well as reducing the fat it’s about eating in moderation. I also left out the cream, which I think is what gave my cheese a drier, crumblier texture that most ricotta.
I have to confess I am not a huge fan of whole milk ricotta, I much prefer the more traditional whey ricotta. Whey ricotta is much creamier and I actually find it more flavoursome. The whey ricotta will come at a later date, as you need to make another type of cheese first in order to get your whey.
The low fat ricotta was made from the best quality low fat, unhomogenised milk I can lay my hands on. This is the Over the Moon milk that I buy at the local farmers market. The good quality milk meant the finished product had more flavour than I expected but the texture of the ricotta was quite dry and crumbly, even though I only left it to drain for a short period of time. On the few occasions that I have made whole milk ricotta before, I have always packed it into a mould and left it to stick together into a firm piece of cheese that I can bake in the oven. The low fat variety would not compact together so I don’t think it would work as a baked cheese. It was nice to crumble over dishes as an alternative to other cheeses and was certainly better than going without any cheese. I served the finished product on toast with some grilled tomatoes and with sweetcorn fritters.
Here is my recipe for low fat ricotta, adapted from Mary Karlin’s recipe
Ensure all of your equipment in clean and sterilised. Put the milk in a non-reactive saucepan large enough to hold the milk comfortably. Add the citric acid to the milk and stir well to combine. Heat the milk gently until it reaches 90C when it gets to about 85C you will see the milk start to curdle.
When it gets to 90C remove the pan from the heat, stir gently, then put the lid on and leave to stand for fifteen minutes.
Line a colander with damp butter muslin and place over a bowl. Gently scoop the curd from the whey and allow to drain in the butter muslin. The longer you leave the curds to drain, the dryer the end product will be. I left mine for about five minutes, until it had visibly stopped dripping. Once drained to your liking, add a pinch of salt to taste and store in an air tight container in the fridge until ready to use.
- Appearance: Looked like dry cottage cheese (creamy white crumbly clumps).
- Nose (aroma): No smell
- Overall Taste: Milky, with a mild taste, used more for texture than taste.
- Sweet to Salty: Mildly sweet, with a faint hint of salt.
- Strength: Very mild
- Mouth Feel: Dry and crumbly