Friday, July 6, 2018

When you hear a noise, do something....

photo by rhubarbi st. germaine

Strawberries: When You Hear a Noise, Do Something

The first time I made this, it was after a session at a pick your own place. In the rows up at a place in a town called Gill, I stooped to pick a tiny strawberry, bit its little head off and heard a growl somewhere near my person. I jumped up from my crouched position and toppled my entire wooden carton of fresh strawberries. When I looked at the carton, it was stained red, the color of blood if strawberries had blood. There was only sky around, no other pickers, and in the distance, a truck with the farm's U-Pick logo and a guy sitting up high in the bed of the truck like a lifeguard. If there was an animal around, even a bobcat, it was gone. There was silence except for birdsong at which point I remembered my first taste of strawberry on a farm with a pig in a pen who snorted and growled at anyone who happened by to eat a little bit of fruit. To celebrate the lack of pig in the equation of this strawberry picking session, I bought a gallon of raw milk up the road and went home to make ricotta to go with the fresh fruit. It requires only patience and a reverence for the fruit, the farmer and the fact that pigs can make an indelible mark.

RECIPE: Ricotta Cheese

1 gallon whole milk. Raw milk is better if you have it.

1 t citric acid (available in cheese-making kits and some hardware stores)

1 piece cheese cloth

1 cooking thermometer that goes to 200 degrees.

Dissolve citric acid in ¼ C cool water

Pour in large stock pot along with a gallon of raw whole milk

Heat to 185 to 195 stirring all the while to prevent scotching

Try not to let it boil. Really don't let it boil. It is a chemistry thing.

When the whey separates from the curds, take off heat and let sit for 10 minutes

Remove curds CAREFULLY from  the whey into the cheese cloth that is lining a colander.

Let the curds sit in the cheese cloth for from 20 minutes to a couple of hours depending on how creamy you like your ricotta. I would say if you are serving it with fresh strawberries, serve it creamy and as close to them time you have made it as possible. Otherwise it can be refrigerated for up to two weeks