Saturday, July 16, 2011

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade cheese? Who knew, right? I love how I can make just about anything I want from scratch. There's not only the satisfaction in doing it, you often times get a superior, more fresh product and there's not all those preservatives and additives you get from processed food products.

Let me tell you this stuff is heaven! It's rich and creamy, totally indulgent and super easy to boot! Ricotta, meaning "recooked" in Italian, is typically made from the whey from making cheese or yogurt. While that method is not difficult, this is just a few steps easier and just as delicious.

Ricotta is great in lasagna, cannoli, ravioli stuffing, stuffed shells and cheese cakes. I mostly enjoyed it plain, smeared on top of some crusty, toasted bread. I have been known to throw ricotta into pancakes as well; there's another great use!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp. 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. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

After an hour the ricotta will be tender and spreadable. If you like a softer spread, you'll stop straining at this point. Put it in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will also firm up a bit once it's chilled. After about two hours, the ricotta will be more like cream cheese, thick but still spreadable and still very smooth.

Discard the whey, or, save it and google the many ways you can use it. Even better yet, save it and make ricotta using the "recooked" method.

Smitten Kitchen

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