I’m not much of a cheese person and barring the odd cheesecake, I rarely cook or bake with it. Lately though I’ve been harbouring a strange fascination with ricotta and started imagining all sort of recipes where I could use it (mostly sweet, naturally!).
I never imagined I’d be making my own cheese but lo and behold! After a bit of research and some sage advice from a few cheezoid companions, my mouth practically dropped whenI realised how easy and fast it was to make fresh ricotta! Seriously, a handful of basic ingredients and around 10 minutes on the stovetop and you could be enjoying your own fresh cheese. Plus it’s also cheaper and much, much tastier than any that you find at your local deli or supermarket. I don’t think I could ever buy ricotta from the store again.
Cheese-lover Mr S. was more than happy to learn and he’s now picturing himself enjoying fresh ricotta every weekend. Simplicity is the beauty here, that even he could do it unsupervised! And his verdict on the taste? Well, I think the act of him picking off stray chunks of ricotta off the kitchen bench says it all really! But I can’t judge, as I’m already armed with a handful of ricotta recipes, some of which, I’ll lovingly share with you all in the near future of course!
You will need a fine cheesecloth or muslin cloth, which you can pick up cheaply from any haberdashery or linen stores. For my fellow aussies, pick it up from any Lincraft or Spotlight store for around $5 per metre (which will give you two large enough sheets). If your cloth isn’t as fine then be sure to double the layers up when you strain the cheese. Remember to wash your new cloth before you use it (thanks Mr S. for the laundry reminder!).
As for the dairy, I used organic milk and cream, but any cream and whole milk that’s slightly pateurised is fine. Do not, however, use any that’s ultra-pasteurised.
1.9 L of whole milk (preferably organic)
1 C (250ml) heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbl (45ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Line a colander or large sieve with a layer of fine, heavy cheesecloth or muslin cloth over a large bowl or pot (double layers if your cloth isn’t as fine).
2. In a heavy-based pot, slowly bring the milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil over moderate heat. Stir constantly to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom.
3. Once it’s boiling, add the strained lemon juice and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir constantly, until the mixture curdles (about a minute or two).
4. Pour into the muslin-cloth lined sieve and leave it to drain for about an hour.
5. Cover the ricotta and chill in the refrigerator. Because it’s ultra fresh, be sure to use it by two days.
Note: If you are planning to cook or bake with the ricotta, I suggest you leave it to drain in the fridge overnight to dry it as much as possible.