We made our own homemade ricotta the other day and let me tell you it was some of the best ricotta we have ever tasted. Now, according to the professionals and the Italians, traditional ricotta is made with the left over whey from sheep's milk or cow's milk cheese making process. These days and especially here in America people and company's have been making so called ricotta with milk. Techniquely it's not ricotta but it's very similar in look and taste. It was not as creamy as ricotta but it had the most amazing flavor to it. We curdled the milk with lemon juice so our final product had an amazing light undertone of lemon in it. It was overall pretty easy to make but we did have to troubleshoot a bit.
All you need is:
a deep stock pot with a heavy bottom
small holed slotted spoon
large metal bowl big enough to sit the strainer in it without touching the bottom
1 gallon of whole homogenized milk (preferably raw whole milk)
3/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juicea pinch of salt
First, line your strainer with a piece of cheese cloth. make sure the cloth hangs off the edges of the strainer a bit to ensure there's enough cloth to hold the cheese. rest cloth lined strainer in metal bowl. set aside.
Place heavy stock pot on stovetop and pour gallon of milk into heavy stock pot, turn on medium heat. Clip on your thermometer to the side of the pot and into your milk making sure the probe is more than half way covered. If you don't have a clip for your thermometer or it doesn't reach your milk you will have to hold it till you get your correct reading. Only stir the milk every once in a while until the curds start to form which will be towards the end like around 150 degrees. While your milk is heating up squeeze 3/4 cup lemon juice and set aside. Once you start to see the curds form stop stirring.
Heat the milk up to 190 degrees. Turn off heat and immediately pour and stir in the 3/4 cup lemon juice. Do not over stir, stir about 1 to 2 times, that's it. Move your pot to a cool burner and let the milk sit for 30 mins for the curds to properly set. The milk will have speparated from the whey which will be a yellowish gray color. The curds will be white and in a mass.
Once your curds have properly set up scoop out your curds carefully with a slotted spoon with small holes into your cloth lined strainer. Once all the curds have been removed bring all four corners of the cheese cloth together and tie your twine around them, creating a knot with a loop so you can hang your ricotta to drain. Choose a spot where you can hang your ricotta to drain for an hour where it won't be in your way. We hung ours on a cabinet knob over the metal bowl. You can squeeze it gently to release some of the liquid.
Once all the liqued has drained, about an hour remove the cheese cloth and enjoy!!!!
Don't throw away the whey!!!! You can reheat it and make REAL RICOTTA!!! Just follow the same steps adding more lemon juice and you should be able to make more ricotta.
It goes great in any pasta dish or spread it on toasted slices of bread with a little salt, pepper, a dizzle of really good extra virgin olive oil and fresh sprigs of thyme or sage. Yum!
makes about 2 to 4 cups.
Hope you guys enjoy!!!