This really is a variation of the chevre recipe posted here, using cows milk rather than goat. Think of it as a hack if you would like to as Ricotta is a cheese usually made from leftover whey from previous cheesemaking. It is one last attempt to gather the remaining milk solids. For that reason recipes can start with the first ingredent being 500 gallons of whey and I just don’t have that much room in the my kitchen. Do you?
This recipe starts with six cups of liquid and will offer up about two cups of finished cheese that I intend to turn into icing for a carrot cake. I don’t always do this from scratch but all the ingredients were available after a cheesemaking class last week and I am trying to keep my fridge a little less full. Ricotta can also be used in all sorts of other dishes; spanakopita, cannoli, lasagna, just to name a few.
You will need:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 cups whole 3.25% milk
2 cups whipping cream
salt to taste ( start with about 1/4 tsp.)
The ingredients above were used in class. The recipe is in cups and milk here comes in liters so I was a little short when using up the leftovers. I just added what I needed for volume with 2% milk and topped it off with an extra splash of whipping cream to balance everything out. I mention this only to show that there is a little wiggle room allowed if you also have this issue at times.
Squeeze the lemons and strain out the seeds and pulp. Measure ¼ cup of juice and add the juice to the milk.
Place the pot over medium heat and cover with a lid.
This mixture will begin to curdle. Check the temperature every so often by placing the thermometer in the milk in different places.
You will see the mixture begin to curdle.
Do not stir, unless it is very gently and there is a reason to do so.
The intention here is to not break down any curds and keep the creaminess of the finished product.
Once the temperature reaches 190 degrees F. take the pot off the heat and leaving the lid on, let it sit for at least 10 minutes, undisturbed.
Using a colander, bowl and inlaid with cloth, gently scoop and transfer the mixture from the pot to the colander.
Again, keeping the curds as whole as possible makes for a creamier cheese.
In the picture to the left are two options of cloth that can be used to hold the curds and whey.
One is an untreated muslin that is my go to for cheese and yoghurt making as it keeps more of milk solids out of the whey.
The option on top is cheesecloth which I tend to stay away from as most are VERY loosely oven. That means you will need many layers to hold the milk solids back and that quality does not wash well for reuse.
That said I have recently found a tightly woven option that has made it through a couple of washes. So, when buying cheesecloth take a good look at the weave. This really is a case of quality is worth the price. Or just go for untreated muslin.
As the mixture drips, it will become thicker on the edges and the cheese will easily separate from whichever cloth you choose to use. It just falls away.
I have seen some recipes that suggest squeezing is an option after 10 – 15 minutes of dripping. My suggestion is let nature take its course and unless there is an emergency reason just let it sit. You will like the finished product better. It will be richer, creamier and delish.
Ricotta is a very mild cheese able to be used in sweet and savoury dishes. A minimum amount of salt is added once the dripping is complete. You will know when that is by the consistency. The center will always be the softest section and gently folding the sections together while adding the salt is a good idea. Remember also that the warm cheese will firm up more with some time in the fridge.
The whey can be used in many flour based recipes. Here are two, Irish soda bread and no knead overnight bread. I will also link in a carrot cake once the post is finished ( I subbed out the buttermilk ).
So there you have it. Something to think about if expiry dates are getting close, the weather outside is too nasty to go shopping or just because you can.
Let’s go with Ricotta from My Kitchen Wand