I never imagined I’d be someone who owned and actually used cheesecloth, but here I am.
I remember when I was about twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old and my friend, Valeria, who happened to be a Russian immigrant, told me that I should not waste money buying cheese and that I should make it myself instead. She told me this in between our helping customers at the department store where we worked.
“You realize I can’t cook, right?” I asked, chuckling.
“You can do it. It’s so easy. You just need cheesecloth.” She told me, in her beautiful heavy accent. I learned a lot from the short time I worked with her and because of her, I was introduced to the beautiful works of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. She also insisted I give Lolita another chance, but this advice, I’ve yet to follow. Maybe I will one day, but I’m not there yet.
At that time, I had never even heard of cheesecloth, nor did I have any idea whatsoever as to how this magical cloth could turn bland cow’s milk into delicious cheese. Have I made it clear how clueless I was back then? While department store floors were easy for me to navigate back then, the kitchen was not. In all honesty, I found it rather unremarkable to discuss anything regarding a kitchen. I was a strong, empowered working woman. What did I need with a kitchen or this magical cheese cloth?
That was my self-righteous attitude back then.
Boy, did I have a lot to learn.
So anyway, My Dearest Valeria, I now own cheesecloth and have made my first batch of soft cheese. I salute you, you gorgeous, strong, empowered woman, and even though we’ve not seen or heard from each other in a very long time, I love and adore you to this day.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- 1/2 gallon organic whole milk
- 1 cup organic heavy cream
- 1/8 cup white distilled vinegar
- Sea salt to taste
- cheese cloth
- large heavy, non-reactive pan
- silicone spatula, or other non-reactive
- instant thermometer
- Mesh colander
- Air tight container (for storage)
Set aside: In sink, line mesh colander with cheese cloth.
In large, heavy pan, heat milk and cream over medium heat, stirring to avoid scalding. Watch for foam and steaming. When it is just shy of 185 degrees, remove from heat.
Add vinegar and salt and stir. It will begin curdling immediately. Cover with clean dish towel for about 30 minutes.
Gently pour mixture into cheesecloth-lined colander and allow it to drain for 30-40 minutes.
Pull up each corner of cheese cloth and squeeze out excess moisture. When the liquid turns white and the cheese begins to push through cloth, you’re finished. Enjoy immediately, or spoon into air tight container and store in refrigerator for up to one week.
I do hope you enjoy this recipe. If you try it, please let me know how it goes!