Tonight Darling Husband and I made shmear casse, or a fresh, farmer style cheese. Various people/recipes call it cottage cheese, queso blanco, ricotta and farmer cheese. I think regardless of what you call it, it's pretty darn cool.
True ricotta, actually, isn't technically a cheese at all. It's made from the whey left over from making, for example, mozzarella. It's name means re-cooked.
To make this cheese, we brought a gallon of whole milk up to 180 degrees, then stirred in 1/4 cup of vinegar. We let this cook, stirring, for 15 minutes while it curdled. Then we lined a colander with paper towels (because we had no luck at WalMart finding cheesecloth) and allowed it to strain out the curds from the whey. I kept looking about for spiders, but none were up on their literary cue.
What were we left with? We'll both find out tomorrow. My father said his grandfather's final step was to hang it above the sink to drip. Ours is dripping into a big pot, because surely there's a use for the whey. I hear there's a Portuguese soup made from it, but I don't know for what our whey is destined.
I'm holding off on making plans for my cheese until I see it and taste it. Will it be more like cottage cheese or more like queso blanco? Will it melt? Hmmm... I don't even know how much it will make. I'm planning on sharing some with my father no matter how much it makes, but I'm curious if I should be planning an appetizer application or plan to have left overs.