Sunday, September 22, 2013

Creamy Homemade Ricotta

I have been dying to make my own cheese for a while now. It's just one of those things that so cool to say that you have done. And after reading countless blogs and recipes that said it's actually the easiest thing ever to make, I thought I could give it a shot. They weren't kidding. DO NOT waste your money on crappy store bought ricotta!!! Especially if you ever plan on making cannolis. We paid $19 for fresh, house-made ricotta from St. James Cheese Company for our cannolis. We would have saved most of that AND our ricotta would have been better anyway! It's takes maybe 5 minutes.

I did use a recipe that isn't technically "traditional" ricotta, but I really didn't want to end up with that grainy mess that you so often find in the grocery stores. I wanted smooth, creamy, delicious ricotta, and that is EXACTLY what this stuff is. My pictures show the ricotta before it has been refriderated, so it is less viscous. But once it has had time to chill, this stuff is thick, creamy heaven. Of course it is great either way. It's just depends on how you plan on using it.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream (heavy cream if you can find it)
1/2 tps. salt
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (reserve a little more in case you need extra)

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a sauce pan over medium heat. Using a candy/meat thermometer (I like using two, just for accuracy) and heat to 190 degrees F. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon to cook evenly and prevent scalding. When the milk has reached the desired temperature, remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir a little to make sure the lemon juice is distributed and then leave untouched for about 5 minutes.

Line a colander with cheese cloth (folded several times) and position on top of a bowl, leaving enough room under-neither to catch the milk without touching the bottom of the colander.

After the five minutes are up, use a wooden spoon and push aside some of the cheese which should have separated from the whey. If the whey is still pretty cloudy, add more lemon juice and let sit a while longer. Then pour the everything into the cheesecloth and let strain for about an hour. For lighter ricotta, stop at an hour. For a thicker ricotta, more similar to cream cheese or creme fraiche, let sit for around two hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container.