Humans have been making cheese for centuries. According to the journal Nature, in the 1970s archaeologists in Northern Europe discovered pieces of clay pots with small holes in them dating back 7,000 years. Speculation as to the use went unanswered until recent technology allowed for analysis of the clay. These tests showed cows' milk residue and it was deduced that these vessels were used for draining cheese.
Have you ever wondered how cheese is made? Making a fresh cheese product generally takes less than an hour and is an interesting and rewarding process! Try this easy recipe for fresh ricotta:
1/2 gal of whole milk (NOT ultra pasteurized)
1/2 c heavy cream
1 t fine ground salt
1/4 c distilled white vinegar
Line a large, fine-mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and place over a nonreactive (such as stainless steel) bowl.
In a large saucepan mix milk, cream and salt; set over med heat until the mixture reaches 175-180° on a thermometer (approx. 5 minutes). Remove pot from heat and slowly pour in the white vinegar while stirring steadily. Stop stirring as soon as all the vinegar has been added. Allow the mixture to sit while the milk solids coagulate and float to the surface leaving they whey on the bottom (approx. 20 min).
Ladle the solids into the strainer and discard the liquid whey. Drain the ricotta (without pressing down on the curds) until most of the whey has drained (about an hour). Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and store in a covered container for up to one week.
The Willamette Market Cheese Shop is very excited to stock a variety of cheese making kits for our hands-on customers. We carry a Mozzarella/Ricotta Kit from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company in Ashfield, MA. We are also proud to stock local DIY cheese kits from Urban Cheesecraft located in Portland, OR. These kits include Paneer/Queso Fresco, Mozzarella/Ricotta and a Goat Cheese Kit. All kits include the supplies necessary to make cheese EXCEPT milk. These make perfect gifts and are a real learning experience for all involved. Kids and adults love the process and are jazzed to consume a product they had a hand in making. Come on and get crafty!!!!