When I was a child there was a popular T-shirt for sale in tourist shops, emblazoned with a slogan about New Zealand being a place with three million people and 70 million sheep. I think it was the 1980s version of the fake New Zealand tourism posters in Murray’s office in Flight of the Conchords (“New Zealand: your mum would like it” etc).Anyway, while the human population has grown to four million, the sheep have dwindled to 32 million. Dairy farms now rule the roost, with around six million cows dotting the landscape.
|Rush hour (image via here)|
Rather than making New Zealand the land of milk and honey, intensive dairy farming is blamed for fouling our waterways and having a serious impact on soil quality. As if that wasn’t bad enough, market forces mean dairy products are ridiculously expensive, organic or not.
But let me step off my soapbox for a minute and show you my latest favourite trick, DIY ricotta. I don’t have the patience or the extreme attention to hygenic detail to make my own proper cheeses, but ricotta is a cinch.
I found this recipe through Twitter, but I can’t now really recall exactly where it came from. I wrote it down on a Post-it in shorthand (see, being a journalist can be useful occasionally) and promptly lost the link. Proper ricotta is made from the whey byproduct of other cheesemaking, but this is the cheat’s version. Milk thermometers are easily found at kitchen shops (Wellingtonians: buy them upstairs at Moore Wilsons).
1 litre full fat, not homogenised milk
2Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar
pinch of salt
Put all ingredients into a large and very clean pot. Heat slowly, stirring often, to 96deg C (205degF – which might be easier to see on your thermometer). Take off the heat and let rest for 15 minutes. While that’s happening, line a sieve with clean muslin (or a new Chux cloth) and set it over a deep bowl. Pour the curd-y mixture into this and let the whey drain away.
At this point, you can eat the ricotta warm, drizzled with honey, or you can let it drain in the fridge overnight, covered. Makes about 200g.
Have you ventured into the whole of cheesemaking?