Make your own Cheese: Ricotta

Today's first edition of having enough of it- you can't find what you need in the stores- either you go without it, or like me, when I really can't substitute the product for anything else, I start running around all the shops in my district to find it or not (sobs violently).
I'm making lasagne for dinner tonight with or friends, and of course, same problem as last time: no ricotta cheese to be found. I checked if there is something to substitute it with, but found instead I can make ricotta, for half the price I'd pay for ready- made.
It's so easy that you really don't want to try. It makes you lazy." What? Make cheese so fancy like ricotta and you make it yourself? And it's going to be good? Not a waste of time? Huh? Nah, I won't make it."
At least that's the thought process I had when reading about cheese making.
Which, to be precise, ricotta isn't actually a cheese, it's a by-product from making mozzarella cheese, which leaves whey. You originally make ricotta from adding acid to the whey and gathering the curdles which make the ricotta. But I haven't got fresh buffala milk or sheep milk, Just regular UHT cow milk, which works just fine. If you somehow manage to lay your hands on fresh milk straight from the cow:), use it, and your ricotta will be probably much more creamier than the one made using UHT milk. Lucky you:)

It has to be at least 3% milk ( If you don't have percentage markings of milk on the carton, just try to get the fattest milk possible, or cream. So regular milk, full milk, whole milk, creamy milk ( I've seen somewhere milk called like that), and cream.

So the process is actually very simple, you just need to look at your saucepan for around 10 min so nothing burns or spills over, and get a clean cloth for draining. And if you have a candy or deep fry thermometre, lucky you. I don't have one, although it's on my wishlist, so I look deep into my saucepan.

So what will you need:
a wide saucepan ( 2-5l), spoon, teaspoon,  sieve, 8 clean cheescloths, or a very tightly woven piece of white, uncolored fabric, a medium bowl

  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream ( highest percentage, or creme fraiche if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Get a life:
In the saucepan mix together the milk, cream and salt. Put on medium high heat and start looking with a handy spoon on hand. Or if you have a thermometre, clip it on and you should get to 88C. Stir occasionaly with the spoon to prevent burning from the bottom. So when it starts to heat up, there starts forming a foamy like texture on the milk, turn of the heat, remove the saucepan and add the lemon juice. Mix gently and slowly, and set aside for 10 mins for the curdles to form.
Put your seive, with the cloth inlaid, on top of the medium bowl. Pour the mixture through the seive, letting the yellowish liquid (whey) drip through into the bowl, leaving you with the curds left in the cheesecloth. Leave this for at least one hour. The longer you leave it to drip, the ricotta gets firmer. To get creamy cheese, one hour is just right. Transfer to a small bowl or a airtight box and store in fridge. Eat or use right away because it good and you can say :" I made it mysef!".

Voila, your first cheese homemade. And it works, and it's good.

Additional information:
Serve on a fresh slice of french bread, a baguette, pizza bread with prosciutto and rucola, on top of cherry tomato halves, sprinkled with honey and thyme, or salt and pepper, or a spirnkle of cayenne pepper and perhaps a sliver of young zucchini... Endless posibilities.

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