Once you learn how easy homemade ricotta cheese is and how absolutely fantastic it tastes, you’ll never go back to store-bought again.
You remember the song, ‘There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly’? The version I remember was the one that Burl Ives sang, but that little ditty’s been around a long, long time.
The song, for those who haven’t had the privilege of hearing it yet, is about an old lady who swallows a fly (imagine that). To get rid of it, said woman decides to swallow a spider (which wiggles and jiggles and tickles inside her).
She’s soon seen swallowing a bird, a cat, a dog, a goat, a cow and a horse, all in hopes that the later critter will take care of the creature before it. It’s a proverbial intestinal dominoes.
I feel a little like that with this ricotta cheese. If you have the April/May issue of Fine Cooking (I know, I know, I’m way behind here), you know why. there’s a Chocolate-Orange Cannoli Cheesecake on the cover that I can not wait to make, but it calls for homemade ricotta.
So, there was an old lady who made homemade ricotta so that she could make a cheesecake.
Who knew that making ricotta cheese was so easy. My milk and cream heated up perfectly. I added the lemon juice (I used 3 small lemons) and the curds came together beautifully.
Since I didn’t have any cheesecloth, I lined my colander with coffee filters instead. It took a little longer, but after about 6 hours I ended up with a gorgeous container of ricotta cheese.
By now, you probably know my feelings towards ricotta cheese. I told you about them when I made the Vanilla Strawberries with Lemon Ricotta, the Pizza Casserole, the Orange Cream Dip, the Lasagna Bolognese and many, many others. I guess the fact that I was willing to make this recipe shows how much I love cheesecake.
That being said, I was wonderfully surprised to find out that good, fresh ricotta cheese doesn’t have the nasty grainy texture that’s put me off the stuff for so many years. Wow, what a difference.
I can’t wait to make the cheesecake with this cheese now. It’ll be phenomenal.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
- 1 gallon whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbs. flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- ½ cup fresh, strained lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
- Line a colander with 3 to 4 layers of lightly dampened cheesecloth, and set it in a clean sink or large bowl.
- Clip an instant-read or candy thermometer to the side of a heavy-duty 7- to 8-quart pot. Put the milk and cream in the pot and slowly warm it over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula, until it’s 185°F, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, and then slowly pour the lemon juice over the surface of the milk. Once all of the lemon juice has been added, stir gently for 1 to 2 minutes to encourage curds to form.
- Gently ladle the curds into the prepared colander. Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the curds to loosely cover. Drain until it reaches your desired consistency, 30 minutes for a soft ricotta and up to 24 hours for a very firm, dry, dense ricotta. Refrigerate if draining for more than a couple of hours. Transfer the drained ricotta to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Watch out now because my new-found acceptance of ricotta (the homemade version) means I’ve opened up a wealth of new recipes for the making. It’a new me now!