As if I don't already have more projects started than I can possibly complete, I've gotten all gung-ho about learning to make my own yogurt and cheese. So I've started buying a gallon of raw cow's milk from a local farmer each week. It's kind of on the down low - the raw milk issue is yet unresolved in my state. If you're in the know, you will find a van in a specified place for a couple hours once a week…you walk up, get handed great big ball jars of fresh, unlabeled milk from the back seat, then pre-pay for whatever amount you'd like to pick up next week. Covert!
I haven't bought cow's milk for years because it upsets my stomach to an embarrassing degree, if you know what I mean. Suddenly, I'm buying enough for a family of four. The really amazing thing is that although I'm lactose intolerant, I consumed a whole cup of this fresh, raw milk without incident. I shit you not! That is to say that I did not shit all night as I normally would if I consumed that amount of milk. I read that lactose intolerant people can drink raw milk, but I don't believe everything I read on the internet. C'mon. It seems to be true for me though, and I'm really excited about it! Do you know how many years it's been since I've had a glass of milk with a home made cookie?! Decades. So even if I never get around to becoming a serious cheese maker, I will definitely be getting around to dunking some cookies.
For my first cheese making experiment, I chose an easy one - ricotta. It was really easy, and I think it came out as it was supposed to, although it's pretty different from store bought ricotta. Perhaps it was because the recipe called for milk and a lot of cream, but I used only whole milk. Instead of being creamy and spreadable like store bought ricotta, it was more like curds of fresh mozzarella - a bit rubbery, and definitely not spreadable. Totally tasted like fresh mozz to me, too. That's cool, because I actually use mozzarella frequently and rarely use ricotta. I added some dried basil to the finished cheese and will be using it in a lasagna tomorrow.
But what about that creamy, spreadable store bought ricotta that I love? My first two attempts at making yogurt created something indiscernible from that type of ricotta cheese. And it was even easier than the ricotta making method I tried today! I'll be working out my yogurt machine ricotta making method over the next few days and will let you know how it works.
For now, here's how I made ricotta cheese with raw cow's milk using a recipe from the book Artisan Cheese Making At Home.