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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

29 Jan
Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I’m sitting here trying to think of all the reasons why I put so much effort into cooking, but I’m actually having a difficult time narrowing it down. I enjoy it, but I can’t name why. I guess it’s something that keeps me involved and moving. After all, what would I do when I get home from work if it wasn’t for having to put a meal on the table? I’d probably just veg out and stare at the tv.

There’s something about the creative process of cooking that I absolutely love. I rarely use a recipe, and if I do, it’s more for inspiration. The exception, of course, is with baked goods and pastries, which require very specific measurements, or you’ve likely got a disaster on your hands.

Cooking, for me, is just a collection of processes, and I get to fill in the blanks. Sometimes I find this exhilarating, especially if I’m trying something new. The most recent example of this is the creme fraiche I made earlier this week. It was delightfully simple, yet yielded a product so delicious and amazing that it put its grocery counterpart to shame! Even more satisfying is the fact that a $4.00 quart of cream yields far more creme fraiche than the $5.00 8 ounce packaged stuff in the cheese section! Imagine what it would be like if I could get my hands on fresh cream . . .

What else could I try? Cheese, you say?

Well, yeah, that’s what I did. Starting simply, of course, I ended up finding a ricotta recipe that intrigued me. And, I’ve definitely got uses for ricotta, so why not?

Never, in my life, have I ever thought that a simple farmer’s cheese could be so enchanting! The ricotta was so smooth, luscious, and sweet, it could have filled the cracks of my heart, had there been any! This cheese was life changing!

Ok, not really life changing. But it’s pretty damn good! The consistency isn’t anywhere near the same as the ricotta that you buy in a grocery. In fact, it’s much closer to a mascarpone, than what I know as ricotta. Upon further investigation mascarpone is actually made using a similar process, with the addition of a few steps and extra time.

But, I digress. Give this recipe a try. It will come in handy for my next blog entry 😉

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I can’t take credit for this. I got the idea from this blog. I did double it for you though, because I needed more.

Makes About 2 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 ounces of lemon juice (about one large lemon)

I wonder if anybody has noticed my invisible text yet. Wonder why I do this?

Directions:

  1. Combine milk, cream, and salt in a stainless steel or other non-reactive sauce pan. Don’t use aluminum.

    Milk and cream and salt

    Milk and cream and salt

  2. Heat the milk mixture to 190 degrees F, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.

    Heat to 190 degrees F

    Heat to 190 degrees F

  3. Remove from the heat and give it a good stir. Slowly pour in the lemon juice. Stir very gently once more and then set a time for 10 minutes and walk away.

    Add the lemon juice off the heat

    Add the lemon juice off the heat

  4. Line a colander or large sieve with about 6-8 single layers of cheese cloth.  After the 10 minutes are up, slowly pour the curds and whey mixture into the colander. If you want to save the whey, place the colander over a bowl first.
  5. Let the curds sit in the colander for about an hour. Check the consistency of the ricotta. The longer it sits in the colander to drain, the firmer the ricotta will be. I let mine sit for about 1 and 1/2 hours.

    Pour into a cheese cloth lined strainer

    Pour into a cheese cloth lined strainer

  6. Pick the cheese up by the cheese cloth and give it a gentle squeeze. Scrape the ricotta into a storage container and chill.

    After about 90 minutes

    After about 90 minutes

  7. Yeah, it’s done. That was easy.
I could eat it by the spoonful!

I could eat it by the spoonful!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably never bought cheese cloth before. Let me save you some time, then. Cheese cloth can be purchased at Wal-Mart in the fabrics section, or you can get it at a fabric store. Don’t look in the kitchen section. Don’t look where the coffee filters are. Don’t go over by the baking supplies. Don’t try the hardware section, just to see if it might be there. Just go to where they sell fabrics and sewing stuff. Silly Wal-Mart.

So, this is probably one of those times when making it yourself isn’t cost effective. I mean, how does eight cups of milk and cream turn into just over two cups of cheese? Well, what is happening is you’re breaking the emulsion by coagulating the proteins through the heat and acid, which separates the proteins, fats, and sugars from the liquid. It’s not all that different from making butter, actually. Buying the milk and cream will definitely cost you more than just purchasing the ricotta yourself. But I’ll let you be the judge if you think it’s worth it.

Store in a sealed container. Glass is best!

Store in a sealed container. Glass is best!

 

So let me know if it is!

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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Appetizer, Dessert, Food

 

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