28 February 2012

Homemade Cheddar: Ricotta and Whey

If you're here to find out how to make cheddar, take a look at the previous post.  This post is about the byproduct (whey) and how to maximize its potential.

Ricotta, I have learned, means "re-cooked."  This is an extremely apt description.

After you have separated the curds from the whey when making cheese, put the whey back into a pot on the stove.  I didn't actually take a picture of the whey, but you can see it sitting in the bowl below - kind of a dishwater color.  Appetizing.
You should probably use the double boiler method here.  I was lazy.  I put the pot right on the stove.  Heat the whey up to 200*F.  As you can see, the why turns milky again - the ricotta has started to curd up.
 After attaining 200*, drain the whey off the ricotta.  I highly recommend using cheesecloth here, because the ricotta curds are so small that they'll drain right through a colander.
So obviously this is MUCH easier than making cheddar, but with much less yield.  I believe we got about 1/2 a cup of ricotta out of the whey.

Alright, so you've pushed this whey to give you as much cheese as you can.  But don't throw it away just yet - it is still healthy and useful.  It is full of protein!

Some great uses include putting it in soup stock, putting it in smoothies, using it to make bread or oatmeal, cooking rice in it, watering your plants with it, etc.  You can put it in virtually any recipe that calls for water.  I haven't drank straight whey, so I can't speak to the taste of it, but I haven't noticed the flavor in anything that I've put it in.  I don't think I care to try drinking it straight :)

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