Playing with Millie

 Playing with Millie – making ricotta cheese

I’ve had a Mad Millie Cheese Kit sitting in my cupboard for a while now, it was sort of taunting me (just like the Hartley’s Jelly that I’d imported at great expense for a Vodka Jelly Shots experiment). Then just last weekend I was reminded of how much I’d neglected Millie when I found another kit at a garage sale. Unable to resist a bargain I bought it ($3) to go with the original Millie. I now had two girls called Millie in my cupboard, both claim to be mad in that “You hav eto be crazy to work here” way.

Mad Millie

Mad Millie

A surplus of Milk today has caused me to crack open Millie and play with her. But which Millie? The original Millie (which is actually newer) or the older new Millie? As far as I can see they are both the same – one is called “Beginners’ Italian Cheeses” and the other “Premium Handcrafted Italian Cheese Kit”. I opted for the latter for the following reasons:

  • I am a premium person

  • It doesn’t have a Tartan Box

  • It doesn’t have a gurning image of Mad Millie on it.

I also took the opportunity to compare the instructions – there is a definite tidying up of the design in the more up to date kit (refer to tartan). There are also some other differences. The temperature that the instructions tell you to heat the milk to has been increased from 90 degrees to 95 degrees, and the time you leave the milk to separate has been decreased from “1-4 hours” to “20-30 mins”.

Which is the best temperature for making Ricotta Cheese?

My immediate thoughts are that heating milk to 95 degrees celcius is a boiling mess waiting to happen, not to mention that the milk has a habit of burning to the pan if your attentive stirring is distracted for even a second. A scientist has done some studies into the best temperature for making ricotta and suggests it makes no difference – indeed his upper temperature is only 85 degrees! So I’m going to stick with the 90 degrees of New Millie.

How Long to leave Ricotta to separate?

The curds and whey start to separate pretty much as soon as I add the citric acid – so I’m unclear the purpose on the wait. There is no consistency when I look at a selection of recipes – so I think maybe the Old Millie was just concerned about “beginners” burning themselves. Because I am very much premium then I’m going to go for the shorter time.

How to make Ricotta Cheese.

  1. Heat two litres of whole milk in a thick bottom saucepan, constantly stirring until it reaches 90 degrees.

  2. Take it off the heat and add one teaspoon of citric acid, stir quickly and the leave for half an hour until the curds have separated.

  3. Spoon it out into a cheese cloth to drain.

  4. It is ready immediately to eat immediately.

Review of Mad Millie’s Ricotta

It was painfully easy and quick to make, so don’t be put off cheese making because you think it is a bit too hard. The ricotta was certainly better than cheap stuff from supermarkets but was not as creamy as I’d have hoped for – perhaps the temperature was too high?

Future Investigations:

  1. I need to find an optimum temperature for making ricotta – not just to save time and energy but maybe the ricotta will be a bit softer if a lower temperature is used? Next time I’m going to dial it right down to 75 degrees and see what the effect is.

  2. More salt needed? There is certainly more salt needed to satisfy my craving for salt – but will this make a difference if it is added at the start or should it jut be added to taste at the end?

  3. The differences between skimmed or full-fat milk. True ricotta is made from whey so is virtually fat-free – but what about this recipe that suggests adding extra cream? That really appeals to me and it certainly looks great in the photos.

  4. Ricotta Salata – it is the logical next step when you are having fun with Millie!

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