Homemade Ricotta Cheese is really easy to make and doesn’t require any special equipment, save for cheese cloth, which in this recipe it will actually be used for cheese! Hands on time for this recipe is about 25 minutes, plus an hour or so for the cheese curd to drain, and additional time for the cheese to cool. Some tips, tricks and discoveries follow after the recipe.
For 2 cups of Ricotta Cheese
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a large (5 or 6 quart) pot, slowly bring the milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Add the lemon juice and reduce the heat and simmer, stirring until the milk curdles, usually about 2 – 3 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth and allow to drain for an hour. Then refrigerate and use within two days.
Having made my own Ricotta several times there are some things I’ve tried to see if what will happen if I made a change – the results were not always pretty.
Lower heat is best, it will seem as if nothing is happening then suddenly whiffs of steam will appear and the heat can be raised to get that rolling boil. Starting out with a high flame often results in scorching and worse, pot that is hard to clean.
Using anything other than whole milk is a mistake. The flavor just isn’t there. If you are concerned about fat and calories skip the cold cuts at lunch and go for fresh carrot chips, sliced on a mandolin, and some horseradish hummus. (I betcha that shortly after reading this line I will receive a text from Melody Kettle asking for my homemade hummus). Then you don’t have to worry about all the cheese you eat at dinner!
Table salt is the best choice here. If using kosher salt or a fine grain sea salt use less.
Some recipes call for white vinegar, lemon juice brings a real freshness to the cheese. Don’t use the bottled stuff.
A layer of fine cheese cloth is commonly used, but if in doubt double the layers. It may take a little longer to drain but you wonder lose the curds. Cheese cloth can be found at many gourmet and housewares stores, as well as many local “mom and pop” hardware stores.
Be warned, if you taste this cheese before making your pie DO NOT let your family know how good it is until the pie is done. I’m always surprised at how the container of ricotta in the fridge goes down so quickly and the pile of dirty spoons left in the sink grows, but nobody knows anything about it!