A third of all food on the planet for human consumption is sadly wasted
In the UK we throw 100 million pints of milk down the sink annually due to food waste.
A third of all food on the planet for human consumption is wasted.
In the UK we throw out 10 million tonnes of food annually.
Apart from the actual waste, the impact on the planet is immense.
Making ricotta cheese is a very efficient way of using up excess milk.
You curdle the milk with vinegar or lemon juice and strain off the curds.
Eat the cheese in the same way you would cottage cheese – it’s great in a salad or baked with spinach, cream and nutmeg as a side vegetable.
You’re left with whey which can be used in the same way as buttermilk in scones and soda breads.
It can also be used to cook vegetables in or as a braising medium for meats.
My first recipe is for gnudi, which are light ricotta dumplings using homemade cheese. If you want to cut down on time you could buy ready bought ricotta but just drain it in a sieve for half an hour to remove excess moisture. The gnudi are served with a sauce that starts off with some sausage meat, and has aromatic vegetables, wine and passata added. It’s cooked for over an hour to produce a rich sauce.
The gnudi add a lightness of touch and this is the perfect dish for early spring. If you’ve access to some wild garlic, shred a few leaves and add to the dumpling mix.
In commercial cheese making the whey is mostly used for animal feed but one enterprising distiller in Cork uses it as a base for gin.
Ballyvolane Distillery call their spirit, Bertha after a legendary cow in County Kerry called Big Bertha.
She lived until she was 49 and was a bit of a local celebrity.
Her owners threw her a wake when she died in 1993.
To immortalise her memory the distillery owners Justin Green and Antony Jackson appropriately named their whey based alcohol in her honour.
The gin has won multiple awards and you can have a guilt free G&T safe in the knowledge that you’re contributing to the reduction of food waste.
If you’ve had a go at making the ricotta, making your own gin with the whey isn’t really an option.
Braising some lamb shoulder in the whey is a much more feasible option. Seal the lamb off and then add vegetables and the whey.
Cook slowly and when you remove the lamb you’re left with a delicious tasting stock that’s blended with the cooking vegetables to make a delicious sauce.
It works equally as well with pork shoulder or a bacon joint.
Next time you’re tempted to throw any excess milk down the drain, have a go at making a quick cheese instead.