Photo by Francoise Villeneuve
Recipe by Victoria Cannizzo
Ricotta translates to “recooked” as thrifty Italians would literally recook the milk whey that was leftover from cheese making. The addition of an acid would separate the curds into a creamy cheese product that was perfect in lasagnas and pasta dishes. But you don’t have to be Italian or a cheesemaker to stir up a batch of fresh ricotta at home. Not only is it easier than you would think, but it’s made with ingredients you likely have on hand already, is less expensive than buying it in the store, and the result is decadent and creamy. Why wouldn’t you make your own? It’s delicious on toast with a drizzle of honey or schmeared on grilled ciabatta with a sprinkle of sea salt and drizzle of oil.
Makes 1 cup
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons to 1/3 cup lemon juice
In a medium-sized stainless steel pot, bring the milk, cream, and salt to a boil. WATCH CLOSELY as you do this, as cream and milk boil over in a heartbeat. Stir frequently to ensure the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
Once the liquid is at a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the lemon juice bit by bit until the mixture curdles and separates. Small white dots will start to form (curds) and the surrounding liquid will become more watery (whey) when you’ve added the right amount of lemon juice. Stir to combine, then simmer for 2 minutes, or until the entire mixture separates into creamy curds and watery whey.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This helps the curds develop slowly and makes the mixture smoother.
While the mixture is resting, line a fine-meshed sieve with 3 layers of damp cheesecloth. Set the sieve over a large bowl.
Pour the ricotta mixture into the sieve and allow to strain for 5 to 15 minutes. The longer you let the mixture strain, the thicker the ricotta will be. When it reaches the consistency you like, place the ricotta that has collected in the sieve in an air-tight container and refrigerate.
Keep some of the whey in the fridge, because if the ricotta firms up over time, you can use the whey to thin it to a creamy consistency again. The ricotta will keep for 3 to 5 days in the fridge.