Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cheese ricotta making

Welcome to our blog, Genzano it story
and this post, Cheese ricotta making

Making ricotta is an old way of getting as much cheese as we could from the milk.

Ricotta making my grandma way
This hub is being written with a double view in mind, one of which is to compare the old ways of doing things like this ricotta making the old ways which grandma thought me, so that we could compare with what we know today; the other purpose is just to tell you my life story and how I had to cope with what I had to do in those hard times just to live a normal life. 
In one of my last hubs, I have been telling you how we made cheese a long time ago in the small farms of southern Italy, in this hub I am going to tell you how we made ricotta then, that is the way that my grandma taught me a very long time ago; I now that you are thinking, what is the use to know that, since we are not going to make ricotta ourselves, because we can just buy ricotta and eat it from the shop nowadays, it is a lot easier and enjoyable to do that. Okay I know what you mean, but just to compare the ways of life of today with the ways of life when I was young, I am going to tell you how we made ricotta my grandma way anyhow.
So, let us go back to when I made cheese, at the end of which I have replaced all the whey in the large kettle and I was ready to make ricotta, so let us start making ricotta my grandma way, you can check out how we made cheese at my hub, My farm life chapter, 7 .
First of all rekindle the fire and make sure that you have enough fire wood for the whole procedure, then lift the large kettle and whey on this three legged devise on the fire and start warming the whey slowly and steadily, as the whey warms up you need to turn this wooden devise around and around in slow motion always in the same direction, this wooden devise is only a simple stick of wood and although it is simple it has been made perhaps from Elmwood or some very high grade wood as it is an utensil porously made and it is going to last for a very long time, perhaps for generations, this wooden utensil has  a larger rounded end, and you need to turn it around as I said with the larger end dragging softly on the bottom of the kettle, so that any ricotta that is forming while the whey warms up does not stick to the bottom of the kettle.
This procedure will reach a stage when you can see that some very fine flakes of ricotta are forming in the whey, this is the stage when you need to set the ricotta to rise at the top of the whey, how can we do that you may ask? This can be achieved by adding about half a litre of goat milk to the whey, while you continue to turn your wooden devise as described before, this action of adding this goat milk should set a reaction to the forming ricotta in the whey and it will rise to the top. 
Here you need to continue to turn the wooden devise around even more slowly for a few more minutes; you have to take it slower because you don’t want to mix the rising ricotta to the whey again, and when you see that all this has taken place, you can lift down the hot kettle and you are ready to collect your own ricotta.    
At the time when I was young the new hot ricotta would be collected in small woven baskets that would let the rest of the whey out while the ricotta was cooling down, we collected it with a sort of colander with handle from the top of the whey, at the end of all this work sometimes we would leave a bit of ricotta for ourselves, and we used it in the following manner:
Usually in the farms of those days there was always plenty of dry old bread that would be hard to eat the way it was, so we would slice the bread and put it in a large dish, and then we would put the still hot ricotta and a bit of whey on top if this dish filled with old bread; this rustic prepared dish usually would replace a whole meal during the day. Okay, you might be shocked and spew that this was a prepared dish of whole some food, but hey it was either that or old dry bread, I hope you see what I mean?    
At this point of time the whey in the kettle is still hot, it has got to be because to make ricotta, we had to warm the whey to a very high temperature just below boiling point, so, I have one last use for this hot whey before I finish with it; I have to dip the fresh cheese that I have made into it, and this is a sort of pasteurisation for the new cheese.
I know that now you are saying, this procedure about cheese and ricotta making is very boring; I hope you have finished with it now, because we don’t see the use of knowing all this stuff thank you very much. Sorry to disappoint you because I still have to explain that in those days even the whey had to be put to good use, it has always been so in farming, the main rule of which is; waste not want not, so what we did with the whey was this, we could give small drinks of it to cats and dogs, it had to be small drinks otherwise it would make them sick. The rest of the whey was good for the pigs to drink and to mix with coarse milled grains to feed them. Yes you guessed it right once again the pigs are the saving bank of all farm foods that would otherwise go to waste.
Now that I have described to you this cheese and ricotta making, I feel that I have said enough about my farm life in the town of Genzano di Lucania, which is the town that I was born and lived my young life; therefore, from now on I am going to talk about my life experiences as a migrant to this land of opportunities Australia. See you soon.      
 Genzano it story
Cheese ricotta making
Next time with, Today modern farming
Some useful links

Some hub links