Homemade Ricotta

I love making this cheese because it makes me feel like an accomplished homesteader. Something about a basic ingredient being elevated into something new makes me feel like I’ve achieved the impossible. It also stirs visions of life among cloth covered wagons and tipi living (I’m part New American and part Native American).

The act of turning milks into cheeses and preserving fruits, veggies and meats is so simple and basic and it feels so “right”. I know, we now have the convenience of stores where you can buy this stuff already made. And refrigeration has nearly obliterated preserved foods from our diet leaving only meager snack foods like dried fruits in trail mixes, or wasabi peas at bars, beef jerky on camping trips, or jam in our PB&Js.

Forget these conveniences and give it a try. Turn back the clock (heck, break the clock) and take some time to do a task our ancestors have done for centuries. Make some cheese. Dry some apples. Can some tomatoes. They will be better than any store bought option, I promise!

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homemade ricotta
Adapted from a recipe from smitten kitchen.com

• 3 cups goat milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 3 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine the milk, cream and salt into a pot and heat the milk to 190 degrees on medium low heat. I bought a candy thermometer just for this recipe. Be sure not to burn the bottom by stirring often. I use a wooden spoon. Definitely don’t walk away from the pot. It’ll go quickly.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

You can keep the whey to lactose ferment things like cabbage into saurcraut. Check out the Nourishing Traditions cookbook for more recipes using whey.

Happy preserving!

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Cheesy but no cheese kale chips

I’m a lucky girl. For Christmas this year, H got me a dehydrator. I finally busted it out yesterday since I had a bunch of kale. You see, there’s this kale chip that I love but it’s $8 a bag! So, I took a look at the ingredients and made my own recipe. It is almost exactly the same taste as the $8 bag and mine cost $3 to make.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can definitely use your oven.

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Cheesy Kale Chips

• 1 bunch of kale, cleaned and large stems removed
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 1 cup whole, unsalted raw cashews, toasted
• 3 TBS chia seed (I used powder)
• 2 tsp nutritional yeast
• 1 tsp Himalayan salt
• juice of 1 lemon

Mix everything except the kale in the blender (this is where I highly endorse the vitamix blender).

In a large bowl, add your kale and a couple tablespoons of the mixture. The mixture is quite thick so work in batches so you don’t have too much on one piece of kale and not enough on another.

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Pop the coated chips into your dehydrator (125 degrees F) or on a cookie sheet and into the oven (lowest setting). Make sure it’s in a single layer.

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A few hours later (6 in the dehydrator in my neck of the woods or 2 in the oven), you have a deliciously nutritious snack!!!

Enjoy!