You can make ricotta cheese at home! Yes I did it, but I am not sure if it’s really worth of all that dairy produce I used. It’s easy and rather effortless to make but wow that amount of milk you need for so small quantity of cheese. No wonder this was popular traditional food to make at home before 70’s in Finland. At the time when we still had small dairy farmers, like my grandparents. I would be stirring this cheese mixture more so often would I have couple of milking cows with me.
For making two 15 x 15 cm squares of baked ricotta style cottage cheese (about 600 grams), you have to carry home 5 liters of milk and 1 liter of buttermilk or Laban as it’s called in Emirates. The Italian ricotta recipe does not call for eggs, but adding eggs makes the texture to form easier and taste is similar to ricotta cheese bought from market. We call this kind of cheese in Finland “Kotijuusto” which means “Cottage cheese” or “Munajuusto” meaning “Egg cheese”.
After liters of dairy stuff is purchased then next challenge is to have big enough pan where to cook the milky cheese. I have used 8 liter saucepan.
Baked Finnish Cottage Cheese recipe
5 liter full fat milk
1 liter buttermilk (laban)
200 g sour cream (optional)
1 ts salt
Whisk 4 eggs together with buttermilk and sour cream, keep aside.
Heat the milk to boiling point and add buttermilk-sour cream-egg mixture.
Heat the milk mixture to the boil again, keep stirring but don’t let mixture to boil.
Curds will separate from whey (liquid) and float to top.
Just when milk starts to raise remove from the heat. Let stand for half an hour.
Collect the cheese mass with skimmer into strainer or special cheese mold lined with cheesecloth.
Press lightly the cheese mass to get off the whey. Stir the salt in the mass evenly.
Fold the cheesecloth over the cheese mass and put the light weight on the top.
Don’t forget to set the cheese mold over the empty large bowl to collect the whey liquid.
Allow the cheese to solidify in the fridge overnight.
On the next day turn the cheese over on baking tray and remove the cheesecloth gently.
Brush with egg and bake in oven in 250°C until beautifully browned.
Tips from cheese master:
– Use the cheese whey for liquid ingredient for baking bread, whey is full of protein.
– It’s not necessary to bake the cheese, it tastes gorgeous as is.
– Use your favorite flavors to make sweet or savory ricotta.
– Add herbs or pesto to cheese mass before putting it to cheese mold/strainer eat fresh without baking.
– This recipe can be made without eggs.
– Serve sliced on open sandwich or with fresh berries or jam on brunch or breakfast.
Traditionally cottage cheese is made from colostrum, milk for calves on calving time. In Finland it was food eaten at feast. My grandmother made the cheese and baked it at wood-fired oven, my mom made it at home when I was child. Finally I have made traditional Finnish ricotta aka cottage cheese first time only this summer, after I visited in Finland and brought with me the special wooden cheese mold. It was not easy to find the wooden mold, seems that most of us like to buy ricotta and cottage cheese from market. Fair enough, making cheese at home requires lots of milk and it’s hard to consume all the excess whey liquid. I could not throw it away. It’s protein rich food. It took me several batches of bread and pancakes to clear the strained milk whey.
I mastered the Finnish baked cottage cheese aka ricotta, but am not convinced to repeat the cheese factory until I have cow farm on my own.
In one of the images you can see the wooden cheese mold square 16 x 16 cm. Round shape cheese is made in colander and have za’atar (Arabic: زَعْتَر) spice mixed in.