The white plastic tubs of ricotta available in supermarkets are never remarkable. And if you've only experienced POLLY-O, then you need to taste the wonderful thing that is freshly homemade ricotta.
It's a dead simple process, gradually bringing milk, cream, and lemon juice up to temperature so that curds and whey form. The separated mixture is then strained through cheesecloth and voila! Ricotta, smooth, creamy, totally awesome ricotta.
What Worked: Homemade ricotta beats out store bought by miles. And it's not all that difficult to DIY.
What Didn't: No complaints, this stuff is good.
Suggested Tweaks: Whipping in some fresh herbs would be nice, but milky simplicity is kind of the best part of ricotta, we think, at least.
- Yield:makes about ¾ pound (1½ cups)
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:50 minutes
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 ½ to 2 lemons)
- Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Optional: salt (kosher or sea) to taste
Ice a large, heavy pot. Add the milk and the lemon juice to the pot and stir without touching the bottom of the pot for 5 seconds.
Place the pot over low heat and attach a candy or cheese thermometer to the inside of the pot. Heat the milk mixture to 175°F. This should take 40 to 50 minutes, and you can stir once or twice over the course of this time.
Raise the heat to medium-high, and without stirring, watch the pot until the temperature reads 205°F, 3 to 5 minutes. The surface of the milk will look like it is about to erupt, but it shouldn’t boil. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Now you have curds and whey.
Lay a fine-meshed sieve over a large bowl or jar and line it with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Using a large slotted spoon, scoop the curds into the cheesecloth. Let the cheese drain for 10 minutes, and if you like, sprinkle salt over the top of the curds.