foodie friday: homemade ricotta cheese

You know what's sad? My plan was to post this yesterday [on friday, go figure] after coming home after work at 730 pm. What did I do instead? Forgot it was friday and that I had this sucker all ready, got two movies and then watched them before passing out with the hubs. Oops. I hope I can make it up to you by pushing you into the cheese world...

That’s right. I made ricotta. And you can too.
Probably 2 years ago I started a small book where I attached all of my magazine clip-outs. Now, this was before the days of Pinterest, so no judging. I had one for home inspiration and one for recipes. Now and then I look through it but I mostly use Pinterest for any inspiration or storage of recipes. I happened to be flipping through it the other day when I saw one of my clippings for homemade ricotta. Because I cut it out, I’m not sure which magazine it came from although I’m thinking it was Cooking Light. 

 If you know where it's from, tell me. It’s something I gawked at from the very beginning. How sad. I didn’t even know it was possible, let alone that easy! I will have to say though that I ended up straying from the recipe, out of desperation. And you'll have to excuse these photos as they were taken at night and I wasn't in the gussying up mood.

I bought 2 quarts of whole milk, some whipping cream, and a few lemons. In a large pot I brought the milk, salt, and 1 cup of the whipping cream to a boil. It’s funny… I was so nervous about it. Until I got on my phone to check a few things. I was alerted by the sound of the “gentle rolling boil.” I guess that’s why I don’t have children yet…

Luckily, it didn’t ruin anything. After it boiled for a few minutes, I added about 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice. Then I lowered the heat and waited. The clipping said to wait for 3 minutes. This is what I saw.

A few curdles [which my gut instinct was freaking out about] but that was about it. I increased the heat a bit thinking I had lowered it too much and kept stirring. After probably 10 minutes [much longer than the suggested 3], I decided to add more lemon juice. I figured worst case scenario, I’ve wasted $8.59 at most. I added about 3 more tablespoons and that did the trick! My settings were well about simmer (2) but not too high. I think I stayed close to 4 and it goes up to 6. So a decent medium. But this time I kept my eye on that silly ricotta. 

The mixture seemed to be reduced to about 50% curds and 50% still milk. I guess I could’ve added more lemon juice and see what I got but I thought I had played it risky enough. I think I will do this in the future using more juice... when I put my risky pants on.

I emptied the pan into a strainer I had lined with cheesecloth I got on clearance forever ago for about $1.50. Then I let it sit/strain for an hour, as directed. And what do you know, it turned into ricotta!

 This is the mixture one hour after resting and draining. Looks like real cheese! ;]

Obviously, this was not the cheapest route. Although I think next time I’ll try for more lemon juice to see if I can increase my amount of ricotta and waste less milk. Then it might be worth it. Or if you have some fancy friendly farmer willing to give you milk at a lovely price, I’d say go to ricotta-town. I’ll definitely try it once more and see if it’s worth it after I've experimented more. I'll keep you updated with any changes... Oscar has already requested different cheeses. And I should be using this cheese in a recipe for next week!

Until then, here’s my version of the ricotta recipe:

2 L whole milk
1 c whipping cream
½ tsp salt
6 T fresh lemon juice [about 3 lemons]

Mix the first three ingredients in a large pot on the stove top set to high. Let come to rolling boil. Add lemon juice and reduce to medium, stirring occasionally. Wait about 5 minutes. After curds have formed, drain into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Let ricotta set for one hour. Store in refrigerator.  


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