Make it at Home: Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Hey guys….let’s talk about cheese!

Discovering a love for cheese making has been a huge benefit of this unchained journey. At this point in the challenge, I have made mozzarella about 7 times with delicious success. It was time to bring another cheese into our family’s rotation: Ricotta.

This is a very simple cheese to begin with, and once you taste it….you’ll never go back to the bland, plastic tub.

Tools:

  • One Gallon Whole Milk – I use fresh raw milk
  • 2 tsp of Citric Acid – Can be purchased here.
  • Large Pot
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Thermometer
  • Cheesecloth
  • Colander or Bowl

Directions: Adapted from www.cheesemaking.com

Pour a gallon of whole milk into a large pot.

Prepare a Citric Acid solution…Add 2 tsp of citric acid and dissolve this in 1 cup cool water.
Add 1/2 of this Citric Acid solution to the milk (save the rest of the citric acid).
Stir briskly for 5-10 seconds.
Add 1 tsp salt to the milk

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Heat the milk slowly on low to medium stirring well to prevent scorching
At 165-170F watch for small flakes forming in the milk and the separation into small flaky curds.

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If you do not see flakes forming, add more of the Citric acid mixture (1 tablespoon at a time) until they form. At this point, when you see the curds, a slower stirring is essential to avoid breaking up the small bits of curd that have formed. Excess stirring will cause smaller and very granular curds to form.
Continue heating to 190-195F then turn the heat off.

As the curds rise, use a slotted spoon to gently move them from the sides to the center of the pot. These clumps of curd will begin to consolidate floating on top of the liquid.
Let the curds rest for 10-15 min.

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It’s about to get really tasty….

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Ladle the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander or bowl.

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Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth around the ricotta. We used a rolling pin suspended above a large pot for the draining process.

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Let the curds drain for 15 min up to several hours.

For a fresh light ricotta, drain it for a short while (until the free whey drainage slows) and chill to below 50F. For a rich, dense and buttery texture allow it to drain for an extended period of time (several hours) before chilling overnight
Consume within 10 days.

This resulted in about 3.5 cups of creamy ricotta. Hands-on time for this cheese is minimal, especially considering the quality of the finished product.

Try it, friends!

Lisa

Dinner Menu ~ Weeks 7 & 8

Happy Snow Day Middle Tennessee!

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The push for spring is in full swing….10 more weeks until our last frost date! Hundreds of plants have been started awaiting the warmer days and cool nights. I couldn’t be more ready for this change, but there is always lots to do!

Pressing Farm Tasks:

  • Start sweet potato slips (tutorial to come).
  • Start another flat of cabbage, kale and collards.
  • Repot the Onions of Parma that I started in January.
  • As soon as the snow melts, Cliff will construct a pea trellis from bamboo stakes.
  • Sheep Fencing Project.
  • Raken (Rabbit-Chicken House) We have them in separate barn stalls now but are working to combine them.

Dinner Menu ~ Weeks 7 & 8

Day 15
Chili

Day 16
Roasted chicken with potatoes and sage

Day 17
Roasted sweet potato huevos rancheros

Day 18
Potato, sausage and kale soup

Day 19
Baked chicken taco casserole

Day 20
Pizza

Day 21
Shepherd’s pie

Day 22
Zuppa Toscana

Day 23
Frankfurter, green pepper (frozen from summer’s harvest!) and potato hash

Day 24
Chicken and sweet potato stew

Day 25
Beans and greens

Day 26
Burgers and sweet potatoes

Day 27
Pizza

Day 28
Dining Out!

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Have a cozy day!

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed Starting 101

Hey guys!

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, spring is just around the corner! If you haven’t picked up any vegetable seeds, you still have time! We source from Seed Savers Exchange, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. All of these companies have Non-GMO pledges while offering an immense selection of heirloom seeds. Before you start browsing, start with a list of what you are looking to grow. Seed shopping is a lot like buying homeschool curriculum at a conference….you can get easily lost in the fresh textbooks, bright lights and possibilities and end up with 4 years of Rosetta Stone Italian and 25 varieties of tomatoes. Trust me! 😉

So how about a snapshot of my seed starting process?! It’s not super secret or special but in case you are a newbie, it may be helpful!

Here is our setup again. This is positioned on a south-facing window.

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First, I number my flat and mark a triangle in the corner for positioning. I jot this on a calendar – Flat 10: Rows 1-5 America Spinach, 6-10 Mustard Greens.

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I use a sturdy container to hold the seed starting mix. That contraption is a soil blocker, but you don’t need that….a 72-cell flat is just fine.

photo(3)This is important…..moisten your mix before you fill your flat! You’ll get the feel for this, I like to add water until I can form a loose ball, not muddy but a little more than damp.

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Now, you can mix this well and start to fill your cells. With the soil blocker, I just press down firmly…

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And release on the tray. Each block has a small indention for the seed. Fancy, I know….

photo(8)Time for seeds! You can use your pinky finger to indent or the eraser end of a pencil….both equally effective. I only drop one seed per cell….some people sow two.

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Lightly cover the seeds with your seed starting mix and press down gently. Cover with a dome lid until germination occurs and then uncover. If you have lights, keep them within a few inches of the newly sprouted seedlings. Check on them daily to be sure they aren’t drying out too much between waterings.

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Bonus! Here’s what I use to organize all of those seed packets…

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Happy Planting!

Lisa

Dinner Menu ~ Weeks 5 & 6

The challenge began with our pantry shelves lined with jars full of preserved tomatoes, pickles and applesauce. They are slowly being replaced with empty jars ready to be filled once again. It’s gratifying to crack open a can of tomatoes that remind me of the vibrancy of summer and add that bright flavor to soups, stews and sauces. Although, I’m also keenly aware that tomato season doesn’t begin again until June…..and it’s a long while until June!

Discovering the first ripe tomato of the year is always full of anticipation! ~ June 2014

Discovering the first ripe tomato of the year is always full of anticipation! ~ June 2014

We’re already down a bushel of sweet potatoes as well. We have just under two bushels remaining but plenty of fall squash that are waiting to be roasted.

Dinner Menu ~ Weeks 5 & 6

Day 1
Chicken Fajita Soup

Day 2
Sausage with kale and turnips

Day 3
Beans and cornbread

Day 4
Spaghetti squash & marinara

Day 5
Braised chicken with tarragon and cream

Day 6
Pizza

Day 7
Meatloaf with collards

Day 8
Potato soup

Day 9
Burgers with sweet potato fries

Day 10
Slow cooker ham hock with collards and greens

Day 11
Curried chicken with acorn squash and arugula

Day 12
Chicken Pot Pie

Day 13
Pizza

Day 14
BBQ brisket and coleslaw

Have a wonderful week!
 Lisa