Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I’ve always wanted to learn to make my own cheese.  Something where I know exactly what goes into it and something that tastes so much better than the packaged stuff.  I know there are all kinds of artisanal cheeses that are delicious and I will buy those over the mass-produced in an instant, but there’s something about making your own from scratch that is just that much better.

So when I lived in Seattle, I took a cheese-making class.  It was probably one of the better classes I have taken – not only because I walked out of there with the recipes, but also because we got to eat all the cheese we made in class.  Of course ever since then, I’ve been dying to take another cheese-making class because it’s something I feel like I will get better at with more practice.   I think we made about 4-5 different kinds of cheeses, one of those being ricotta cheese.

Anyways, I think one of the easiest cheeses to make is ricotta cheese.  You just need some very high quality milk / cream and some type of acid to separate the curds and whey.  I used a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream and some lemon juice.  Then to make it even more lemony at the end, I added a little lemon zest.

Start by heating your milk and cream.  Add a pinch of salt.

DSC_0864

Meanwhile, line a colander with cheese cloth.  Place the colander over a bowl.

DSC_0867

When the milk and cream gets hot and almost boiling – stirring constantly, add your lemon juice.

DSC_0866

Keep stirring until the curds start to separate from the whey.  Basically – until it starts to look chunky.  Simmer gently for about 2 minutes.  Then remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for about 20-30 minutes.

DSC_0870

Then pour the entire mixture over your cheese cloth.  The whey will wind up in the bowl and the curds in the cheese cloth.  I let mine sit for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

DSC_0872

Top with some lemon zest and enjoy.  You can eat straight up, or use in recipes as needed.

DSC_0876

Recipe:

4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon

In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat the milk and cream.  Add a pinch of salt.  When the milk and cream mixture is heated until almost boiling, add the lemon juice and continue to stir until curds develop.  Simmer gently for about 2 minutes.  Remove the pot from heat and allow to sit for about 20 minutes.  Then pour the entire pot through the strainer, the curds will remain in the cheesecloth and become your ricotta cheese.  Top with lemon zest and enjoy!

Caroline