The creamy texture and fresh tasting sweetness of homemade ricotta is unmatched by the product we find on the grocers’ shelves. Although I use the store bought ricotta most of the time, I am pleasantly reminded how simple ricotta is to make at home and, why I don’t make it more often. Ricotta can be made without any of the special cheese-making ingredients or tools. Ricotta tastes and smells like the milk it’s made from, so use the best and freshest dairy you can find. I use organic milk products exclusively.
The number of applications for using fresh ricotta can be limitless. Using it in savory recipes like lasagna, filled pasta such as ravioli, stir some into freshly roasted spaghetti squash, or layer it in an eggplant gratin, even served on bruschetta with fresh herbs is delicious. On the sweeter side make up a batch of lemon ricotta pancakes, fill a cheese Danish or put some inside a crepe make baked blintzes, even just drizzled with honey and fresh berries- it works wonderfully.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
Combine milk, cream and salt into a large stainless steel saucepan over medium high heat. Keep an eye on the milk and stir often to avoid scorching. Bring the milk to a full boil, then turn off the heat and add the vinegar. You should start to see curds rise to the surface almost immediately.
While the milk is heating, line a large sieve with several layers of cheesecloth and set over a large bowl.
Allow mixture to stand for a few minutes until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts called curds and the watery parts called whey. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow to drain into the bowl at room temperature for a minimum 15 minutes for a creamy texture, up to an hour for a drier, thicker texture.
Transfer ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. This can be used immediately or covered tightly and refrigerated. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.
Makes about 2 cups