So homemade ricotta is making the rounds of all the blogs and cookbooks and whatnot. Making cheese isn’t something I really think about- except when my daughter is spitting up because it looks remarkably like cheese. Probably not a parallel you wanted on a cooking blog, huh? Anyway, I thought I’d try it.
As I was making it (it’s stupidly simple, really), I was reminded of the year my grandmother tried to make yogurt. She bought a fancy yogurt maker. It sort of looked like this one but less fancy and electronic (it was the late ’80’s, early ’90’s). She was trying to be more healthy. And usually when my grandmother attempted something in the kitchen, she nailed it. This yogurt? Not so much.
I’m not sure if it was the yogurt maker, the attempt to be healthy or the fact that she was making plain yogurt (not the new-fangled Greek yogurt that is all the range just now) but it was, well, yucky. None of us would eat it. She wouldn’t even eat it. We tried adding jam to it. Nope. We tried adding sugar. Nope. We tried it with berries. Nope. It was just Not Good. One of the few failures I remember. In fact, it may be the only time my grandmother failed at anything in the kitchen.
So I didn’t have high hopes for making ricotta. I mean, it involved heating milk products and squeezing things through cheesecloth. It sounded suspiciously like homemade yogurt. In the end, though, it worked out really well. It was delicious!
Homemade Ricotta (Thanks to Lady Gouda’s post)
2 quarts whole milk
2 cups buttermilk
1-2 tsp. coarse salt (I used kosher salt)
Line a colander or sieve with cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel. If you use cheesecloth, fold it over so that it is 4 layers. In a heavy saucepan, mix the ingredients together. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom to avoid scorching.
As it heats, small curds will start to form and float to the surface. Once the milks are steaming hot, stop stirring (I still scraped the bottom occasionally).
Now you have two choices. You can use a candy thermometer and wait for the mixture to reach between 175-180 degrees. Or you can simply watch it and decide that it’s ready. I actually did both. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture has separated into a whole mess of white curds floating over sort of gray, thin water. This happened really quickly so pay attention- for me, one second it was all together and the next it was separated.
Gently spoon or ladle the curds into the cheesecloth/cloth lined sieve/colander. I used a ladle and then a slotted spoon and then a mesh spoon. Discard the liquid in the pot (the whey).
After about 5 minutes, pull together the corners of the cheesecloth/towel and sort of twist it all into a nice little bundle but don’t squeeze it. I ended up using a twist tie to keep mine together but I’m not sure I really had enough cheesecloth in the beginning. Let it sit and drain about 15 more minutes.
Open up the cheesecloth/towel and gaze in wonder at the fact that you have just made creamy, delicious ricotta cheese.
If it’s a little too crumbly/dry, you can moisten it with a little bit of buttermilk.