Man......if I had only known how simple making my own homemade ricotta was, I would have tried it YEARS ago. The only special pieces of equipment you need are some swaths of cheesecloth and an instant-read thermometer. With these tools on-hand and about an hours worth of time, I'm here to tell you that if you can stir a spoon, you can make ricotta. I can also say without hesitation, that once you've made your own you will likely never buy it from a store again.
It is SO much better than any you'll find in a market, and such a simple-magical thing to make, that I bet soon you'll be scouring the net searching for all sorts of recipes in which to use the pillows of ricotta that will be flowing like a river of lava from your kitchen. Classic options might include using it as a stuffing for ravioli or for layering into a homemade lasagna.
Feeling like something a little sweet instead?
Check back next week and I'll share the recipe I found to put this very batch of ricotta to good use, its one for a delicious Lemon-Ricotta Cake.
As fate would have it, I've been assigned to make homemade ricotta for an upcoming America's Test Kitchen TV shoot (thank goodness NOT as on-air talent, but as a little kitchen drone working in the background), so I was happy to get a little at-home experience with the process before hitting it in the test kitchen. If I'm to be totally honest though, it's so simple to make, practice is hardly necessary. Maybe that's why they gave the recipe to me, the test kitchen newbie, to swing with on TV day ! ;-)
Now go off and make some cheese, it'll be fun!
Cheers - Steve
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
by: Cathy Whims from Fine Cooking Magazine | Issue 134
(Print Friendly Version)
- 1 gallon whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbs. flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- 1/2 cup fresh, strained lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
- Line a colander with 3 to 4 layers of lightly dampened cheesecloth, and set it in a clean sink or large bowl.
- Clip an instant-read or candy thermometer to the side of a heavy-duty 7- to 8-quart pot. Put the milk and cream in the pot and slowly warm it over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula, until it’s 185°F, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, and then slowly pour the lemon juice over the surface of the milk. Once all of the lemon juice has been added, stir gently for 1 to 2 minutes to encourage curds to form.
- Gently ladle the curds into the prepared colander. Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the curds to loosely cover. Drain until it reaches your desired consistency, 30 minutes for a soft ricotta and up to 24 hours for a very firm, dry, dense ricotta. Refrigerate if draining for more than a couple of hours. Transfer the drained ricotta to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Yields about 4 1/2 cups ricotta