On Tuesday I returned to work after the New Year’s Day holiday. I’d like to say “like everyone else” but a lot of the people at my work wisely booked the extra leave, which my team are unable to do at the start of a new month due to our reporting responsibilities (boo!). Coming back from leave to a whole lot of repetitive fiddly work? Not the greatest!
Somehow, a mistake had been made with our milk delivery company and all we had left in our fridge was a bunch of milk expiring that day. Some people were really leery of using milk at the expiry date, so we ended up with three two litre (approximately half gallon) bottles that were unused at the end of the day, which would only have been tipped down the sink by our cleaner. What a waste!
Instead of letting the inevitable happen, I took the unopened bottles home with plans to make ricotta to go with some mushrooms I’d bought and frozen a while ago.
The idea started when I was telling a friend about a meal I used to make when I worked at Maggie Beer Products – staff would sometimes receive stock with a short code so it wouldn’t be wasted, and I absolutely loved the Mushroom Pate in an individual Beef Wellington. I can’t find it on the website anymore (is it gone? I loved her vegetable pates!) but after leaving the company and not having my favourite snack easily accessible, I made something similar by sauteeing some mushrooms with butter and rosemary and mixing in some cream. The memory of fragrant rosemary and mushrooms and flaky pastry wormed it’s way into my mind and I thought – why not mix it with ricotta instead of cream and make mushroom rolls instead of sausage rolls?!
Back to the point – this unexpected bounty of free milk made a trip to the supermarket unnecessary!
This time I used this recipe from Super Kitchen Machine as I wanted to be able to do small manageable batches right after work. However, if you don’t have a thermal cooker, this recipe over at Little Green Cheese works really well and I’ve used it before.
I’ve priced up the cost of making the Super Kitchen Machine recipe using my free milk (super cheap because free ingredients), a supermarket home brand, a home brand cream (right here), unhomogenised milk (this one) and based the cream amount on this table. Costs can be reduced by using a home brand cream, or free if it’s available to you!
1.5 litres (cost) + 200ml cream (cost) + salt (cost negligible) + vinegar (cost negligible)
1.5 litres milk ($0.00) + 200ml cream ($0.86) = $0.86
1.5 litres milk ($1.00 litre) $1.50 + 200ml cream ($0.86) = $2.36
1.5 litres milk ($1.50 litre) $2.25 + 200ml cream ($0.86) = $3.11
My combined yield from two batches was 700g, and I did drain it a bit longer than instructed.
The supermarket brand at Woolworths ends up being $8.00kg; if my yield is 350g then I believe mine works out to about $6.74 when using the inexpensive milk (and obviously if you get free or clearance milk then you’re making out really well at $2.03 for just your cream).
Because I haven’t tested it, I’m unsure if the inexpensive or unhomogenised milks would have a higher yield of cheese but I do believe you get different yields depending on milk quality. Making your own ricotta is probably a bit of a labour of love if you’re buying all of your own ingredients at an expensive rate but if you enjoy cooking and science experiments then it’s a fun way to spend an hour or two.
That’s it from me for today, I’m going to go and start dreaming up this rosemary mushroom roll!