I grew up with farm fresh homemade ricotta thanks to my grandmother and I vividly remember seeing tasty logs of it refrigerating; I was like a kid in a candy store, sneaking a taste whenever I got the chance…it was that good!
During cheese making, soft white curds rise to the top, separating, leaving the whey, a watery liquid underneath - dumped out by some cooks! However, there are a variety of uses for whey.
Traditionally, ricotta, meaning twice cooked, is made by reheating the whey by-product from certain hard cheeses. But, a ricotta-like cheese can be made by extracting curds from milk, now days, a popular method used by home cooks.
This posting is about the left over whey by-product from your favorite homemade ricotta in which the curds have been extracted from milk. Ricotta whey extracted from milk is watery, yet at the same time milky with a pleasant taste and aroma, kind of like skim milk, so I don’t discard it; I infuse it with flavors to make béchamel sauce, soups or use in breads; if not used in a couple days I freeze it (pictured) for a later use.
What You'll Need
INGREDIENTS for 3-4 quarts of whey
3 Thyme sprigs
Smashed garlic at least 4 – or to your taste
Bring all ingredients to a simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the burner and let steep 20 minutes. Pull out the herbs and garlic.
Use as needed or refrigerate for a couple days. After that, freeze in one cup proportions.
Special Note: A favorite ricotta & its whey spring recipe of mine is Asparagus Lasagna posted here on Food52: