Most food bloggers have been going on and on about making homemade ricotta cheese, which to me makes it a fad. I tend to shy away from those. However, I bought a pint of organic cream yesterday because I loved the glass bottle. Talk about nostalgia, I can remember when milk came in bottles and it was left very early in the morning on your doorstep by a man wearing white. The money to pay for the milk was always left under an empty bottle on the doorstep. Sometimes I think the man in white left the milk even if the money wasn’t there. It was a much simpler time. Here is my lovely little cream bottle. I can picture it on my desk with a single white daisy in it. You’ll have to imagine that. I don’t have any daisies or any other flowers for that matter! Someday.
But I digress. I had this bottle of cream and nothing to do with it. I needed it empty in the event a daisy springs up in my yard. In searching online, I realized I could either make butter out of it or make ricotta cheese. “OK” I said to myself, “Make the cheese, but draw the line now at homeschooling.” My kids are in their forties. That should be an easy place to draw the line.
Here’s how you do it!
In a stainless steel saucepan combine 3 cups whole milk, 1 cup cream, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook over low to medium heat until candy thermometer reads 190 degrees. Stir frequently! Remove from heat and add 3 tablespoons lemon juice (strained). Swirl it in, don’t stir and let set undisturbed for five minutes.
Line a strainer or colander with four layers of cheesecloth. Set the strainer in a tall bowl to allow the whey to drain.
It will look like curdled milk after five minutes.
Pour the mixture into the strainer.
I made a batch last night and one today. I prefer the thickness and texture if left to drain for 2 hours. After two hours remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth. It comes right off.
There you have it. Homemade Ricotta!
For lunch I sliced a baguette into thin pieces and toasted them under the broiler. I toped the toasts with the homemade ricotta, olive oil, snipped chives, lemon zest, coarse sea salt, and cracked pepper. It was divine!
For dinner I made a vegetable lasagna with Béchamel sauce and homemade ricotta. Yum. Note: The ricotta picks up the taste of the lemon which was wonderful in these two applications. If you plan to use it for a more savory dish without the lemon undertones, you can substitute white vinegar for the lemon juice. I used lemon zest and fresh nutmeg in my lasagna so the lemony ricotta was perfect. It will be perfect on my toast in the morning with tart marmalade too!
I used the recipe from www.smittenkitchen.com because I had all the ingredients on hand. There are many, many recipes online for fresh ricotta but this was so easy and so good I will stop looking.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Makes about 1 generous cup of ricotta
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Lasts 2-3 days refrigerated.