Before I tell you how to make this beautiful, creamy, fresh ricotta cheese I think it’s important to tell you why you should make it.
1. It’s so much more delicious than store bought. The texture is smooth and creamy with a delicate flavor, not grainy and salty like the commercially made stuff.
2. You will amaze your audience. Friends and family won’t believe you actually made your own cheese from scratch. It will elevate you to rock star home cook status.
3. It’s ridiculously easy. Seriously, wait til you see.
4. The leftover liquid (whey) can be used to make your own bread. (Ok, this one may be a stretch for some of you non-bread-makers but I swear it made my grandma’s rolls recipe better than ever.)
5. Among its many other uses, it tastes like heaven spread atop crostini with a sprinkle of salt and fresh herbs.
So, I’m definitely not telling you to stop buying ricotta at the grocery store. You can be sure when I’m making lasagne for a large crowd I’ll happily be grabbing a couple tubs from the dairy isle. What I am telling you is don’t be afraid to try this! In my opinion, it yields a huge payoff for a little effort in the kitchen.
I followed this recipe, Fresh Homemade Ricotta, from the Epicurious website. It makes about 2 cups.
6 quart (or larger) stockpot or saucepan
mesh stainless steel sieve/strainer
cheesecloth (You should be able to find in your local supermarket or kitchen store, if not you can order it on Amazon.)
*2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
3 TB lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
*I noticed a comment against using ultra-pasteurized milk, which is the case with the organic kind I normally buy. The high-temperature process changes the protein structure and it may not give you the desired curdling necessary. I opted to use hormone-free milk from a local dairy that was labeled pasteurized without the “ultra”. It worked well.
Place a strainer/sieve atop a large work bowl, line it with a layer of cheesecloth. Set aside.
Place milk, cream, and salt in the saucepan.
Slowly, starting on low-medium heat and gradually increasing the temperature to medium-high heat and stirring occasionally, heat the mixture until it comes to a rolling boil.
While the milk is heating, juice a lemon. Once the milk mixture reaches a rolling boil, add the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.
You should see the mixture curdle as shown below.
Carefully, pour the curdled mixture into the prepared cheesecloth lined sieve. Allow it to stand and drain for one hour.
You can store the remaining liquid (whey) in the refrigerator for a few days if you intend to use it for another purpose. Otherwise, discard it. The ricotta is best used right away but it can be covered and kept in the refrigerator , probably not much longer than two days.
Stay tuned for the recipe I used my ricotta in… Sweet Potato Gnocchi
RIP Leonard Cohen. I found myself listening to several different versions of Halleluiah today. This is my favorite so far. Enjoy. I find it no coincidence that the timing of his passing has led to an opportunity to ponder his music and poetry. Peace.