Before I talk about yogurt and ricotta, I need to talk about Mill-King Market. It’s where I get our milk, and a place a lot of you will love. They not only have milk, but cheese, cream, and grass-fed beef. Their prices are much better than you will find at the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market, and the quality of what they sell is excellent. I always use the raw milk to make ricotta and yogurt, and shake it to mix the cream back in, because it separates on top. Call before you go (click on the market name above, it’s a link), to make sure they have what you want.
If we have milk in the house, it’s because Don wants cream gravy. I’ve never been a milk drinker, and still am not, but I love good dairy products. Yogurt is easy to make, much better quality than what you can buy, and in addition to just eating it, you can use it in recipes that call for sour cream or mayonnaise. I know it’s un-Italian of me, but ricotta has never been a favorite of mine, because it’s usually really bland. However, this recipe is good and simple. Most people use ricotta for lasagna, but it’s great in omelets, on crostini smeared with fresh garlic, or just drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.
This is how I spent my Friday evening! The ricotta is on the plate and the yogurt in the bowl. The yogurt was not quite as creamy as I would have liked, but it’ll be better next time.
- 4-6 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 TBSP white vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan.
- Heat on medium (or medium low) heat. When it comes to a simmer, continuing simmering for 2 minutes.
- While the mixture is heating, get your draining gear ready! Hang a good size mesh strainer over a large container (to catch the whey). Line the strainer with several layers of dampened cheesecloth.
- After the milk mixture has simmered and you can see the curds separating from the whey, strain everything through the strainer. The whey is the slightly yellow liquid that forms.
- The longer you let it strain, the thicker the ricotta. I usually leave mine straining in the fridge overnight, to make it really thick.
- 8 cups whole milk
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- Pour milk into a heavy bottom pan. Attach a candy thermometer so the tip is in the milk, but does not touch the bottom of the pan.
- Heat the milk on medium to medium low until it reaches 180°, stirring occasionally to keep the skin from forming on the top.
- Remove from the stove and cool to 115°.
- While waiting for the temperature to drop, in another large pan, heat 1 gallon of water to 115°. Pour this water into a small cooler and close the lid. This is going to be your incubator.
- When the milk has cooled to 115°, in a small bowl mix the cup of plain yogurt with some of the warm milk. Gently stir this mixture into the rest of the milk. Pour the mixture into quart jars and one 1/2 pint. Set the jars in the cooler with the warm water. I place something under the 1/2 pint to elevate it slightly, so the lid is not covered with water. Put the cover on the cooler and let sit overnight. Then refrigerate yogurt until you're ready to use that week.
- Note: The 1/2 pint is your starter yogurt for your next batch. For the initial starter, I use a cup of Nancy's Organic Plain Yogurt. Also, I prefer Greek yogurt, so I strain the finished yogurt, like I do the ricotta above, only I line the mesh strainer with a large coffee filter (works better).