a dollop of happiness: homemade ricotta cheese

by Chen

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I tried to do something different and was glad that I did.

It was such a disappointment to find that my favorite ricotta was no longer available at the nearby grocery store. I looked at those tubes, wondering what “guar gum” was doing in the cheese, and decided to make my own ricotta. To my surprise, it didn’t take much work except a lot of milk plus a little patience, but the result was heavenly milky and creamy and well worth the effort.

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homemade ricotta cheese
It is definitely ok, or even better, to use whole milk and heavy cream. But “fat-free” will not work.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

4 cups low-fat milk
2 cups half and half
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
3 to 4 tbsp lemon juice, depending on how acidic it is

Line a strainer with two to four layers damp cheesecloth and set it on a large bowl. Set aside.

In a large stainless stell pot, combine the milk, half and half, and salt and heat over medium heat. Stir occasionally. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. It will curdle immediately. Let the mixture sit for 1 minutes. Add more lemon juice if the curdling is too slow.

Pour the mixture to the prepared strainer and let it drain for at least 20 minutes (longer draining gives thicker ricotta). Gather the edge of the cheesecloth and squeeze out the excess liquid.

Tie the top together with kitchen twine. Hang the pouch over a bowl and let drain for another 15 to 20 minutes (this step is optional but helps to get a creamier texture).

Transfer the cheese to an airtight container and refrigerate. Enjoy!

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