Sunday, November 3, 2013

By The Whey......

We all remember Little Miss Muffet who sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey, when along came a spider and sat down beside her and frightened Miss Muffet away. But did any of us really know what "curds" and "whey" were at the time?  I know I certainly didn't and until today still really had no idea.

OK so over the past 10 years I've been into exercise and body building using weights.  All of us body builders understand the significance of protein and whey protein has become the popular choice in shakes, bars and other protein supplements. So I understood that whey protein was something good for me, especially when taken after a workout to build muscle.  And muscle is a good thing because it's more efficient to have in the body since it burns more fat and calories.  So the word "whey" was always in my head but "curds" sound like something yukky.

The Curds are rising to the top

Pouring the curds and why into the strainer

You can see the curds in the strainer

Cottage Cheese!

A better view of the texture of the cottage cheese

Well since we've moved to Panama I've been unable to find cottage cheese, something I frequently ate back in Texas. After all it was high in protein, low in calories and mixed well with fruit or other things. It was a good source of protein at any time of the day or night and pretty affordable to buy.  Here.....not so much.  I have seen cottage cheese in stores here but in tiny containers at high prices.

Yesterday I finally remembered to look up a recipe for it to see just what went in to making it at home, and boy was I surprised.  All it takes to make cottage cheese is milk, vinegar and a pinch of salt to taste. I poured one gallon of milk into a pot, stuck in a thermometer and heated it to near boiling or 190 degrees.  Then I removed it from the heat, stirred in about half a cup or more of vinegar gently and like magic I began to see white, fluffy curds form and separate from the yellowish whey liquid.  I drained it through a mesh strainer and what I had was cottage cheese.  It was as simple as that.  So curds became a good thing since it's the curds that make up the cottage cheese.

One website said to reheat the leftover whey and as it cooled down it would form softer curds which would turn into ricotta cheese, but mine didn't seem to work.  From other stuff I'd  read because this was the by product of a "softer" cheese made with vinegar instead of "rennet" something used in cheese making, the ricotta step was not possible. If I happen to find rennet somewhere I'll try it with that and perhaps I can use the leftover whey to make ricotta next time.  But since I can't bare to throw any food stuff away, I'll keep the whey and use it in oatmeal, protein shakes or other stuff since it's still a high source of protein. But an interesting tidbit is that the word "ricotta" simply means "to reheat, or recook" in Italian, and is where the cheese got it's name.

So this little Miss Muffet will take her tuffet out to a roadside stand to pick up a fresh piƱa (pineapple) to cut up and mix with my homemade cottage cheese for tomorrow's breakfast....along the gringo trail.

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