mozzarella to ricotta

Two quarts of non-homogenized milk was heated with citric acid and inoculated with rennet to produce a disappointingly small amount mozzarella cheese. The batch, if you can call it that, did not turn out all that great. It was not elastic, it was not firm, it tends to break apart, I suppose it tastes just fine.

That left behind a good deal of whey, distressing to waste. Whey has plenty of protein, minerals, and carbs and many uses so there's no point in spilling it out. It also contains the citric acid added from producing mozzarella.

Whey can be used for

* making bread, in place of water for better tasting, higher rising, with sturdier crumb
* baking biscuits, the acid replacing the acid in buttermilk to react with baking soda to create leavening
* making pancakes
* breakfast oatmeal to replace water
* soups
* salad dressings
* fortifying savory dishes, to deglaze pans replacing water, wine, or stock
* to water plants that thrive in acidic environments
* feed to pet dogs and cats, they love the stuff
* to make lemonade, some people swear by it


Ricotta cheese is traditionally made from the whey left over from producing mozzarella. Ricotta = re-cooked. Milk can be curdled by adding acid, as in making mozzarella, by heating, and by souring. Whey left over from mozzarella is already acidified and the curds already removed but there's still more milk solids in that whey, the initial curdling didn't get all of it, and now the whey is already acidified so it is left to set for a day while natural milk fermentation compounds get to work and over a period of a day alter the PH sufficiently so that the whey can be heated to produce a second round of curds. No rennet is used this time. The curds are drained, really seriously drained for a whole day, and the resulting dryer mass of curds is called ricotta. It's similar to cottage cheese except creamier.

Ricotta is generally not made this way any longer. This was a technique used by people of a more frugal economic era. Today commercial ricotta producers simply add acid to milk without rennet and go from there. Due to increased awareness of environmental and financial costs of whey disposal, new refinement techniques have been developed for manufacturers have found it profitable to process whey into high protein food products.

* protein powders
* baby formulas
* energy bars
* coatings on food as oxygen barriers
* glazes on candy
* oxygen barriers for plastics

So, the pictures below depict

1) The original mozzarella. I know, it's small
2) The curds from the heating of the aged whey the day after the mozzarella was made
3) The curds tightened and suspended to remove as much whey from the ricotta as possible suspended like that for a full twenty-four hours.
4) The whey from the ricotta. This whey had curds removed twice.
5) Finished ricotta.

mozzarella plated
beginning to strain the ricotta curds
whey suspended to drain
whey from ricotta
finished ricotta

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