Ricotta Cheese

Homemade ricotta mixed with honey on grilled nectarine

I got on a cheese kick awhile back and decided to try making my own.  I mean, really, every culture has made cheese of some sort from like the beginning of time, so how hard can it be?  I found that making a creamy ricotta is very easy and the results are marvelous.  I don’t particularly like ricotta from the store because I find it grainy, but this was smooth and rich.

I have served it mixed with a little honey on top of grilled fruit and sprinkled with cinnamon, as in the picture right, as well as savory.   By adding minced garlic and herbs, it makes an excellent spread for bread or crackers.

You will need some cheese cloth or a piece or muslim, so that the whey can drain from the cheese, but other than that no special tools are needed.   My next try was mozzarella, and I have to admit, I managed to mess it up three times.  I came up with a beautiful stage one mozzarella, but was unable to pull it or melt it to finish it off.  So for now I will settle for incredible ricotta and try mozzarella after some more research.

Ricotta Done!

Ricotta Cheese – by Debra Crawford,
Makes approximately 1 –  1/2 cup finished

3 Cups Milk (I used 2%)
1 Cup Cream or Half-and-Half
1 ½ Cups Buttermilk
½ – 1 tsp salt.
Have on hand a lemon…
Cheese Cloth
Strainer or colander
In heavy gauge saucepan put milk, cream, buttermilk and salt if desired.  Heat on medium until it just begins to boil.  Don’t stir too often, as this will keep the milk from separating from the whey.
When it just begins to boil, hold it at that stage for 2 – 3 minutes.  Then turn the heat off and let the mixture sit.  You should be able to gently stir around the edges and see the whey and the milk solids separating. (Curdling) You will have soft chunks of milk solids and then cloudy watery whey.  If you do not, squeeze in a tablespoon of lemon juice.  This will help with the curdling process.
Let the mixture sit for 20 – 30 minutes, you should be able to spoon up curds at this time with a slotted spoon.
Line a colander or sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth or a layer of muslim and gently pour the mixture through to drain off the whey.  Let the mixture drain further until you can gather up the sides of the cloth and tie them to a wooden spoon.  Then hang the wooden spoon over the sides of a larger bowl so that the bag of cheese curds is suspended above the bottom of the bowl so that it can continue to drain. Put the whole thing in the fridge for 12 – 24 hours, and you should have lovely ricotta.  The longer you let the cheese drain, the firmer your cheese will be.
This is great with minced garlic and herbs as a spread also.  Or sweeten with honey for dessert cheese.
Curds forming
Ricotta hanging in cheese cloth in fridge
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