Not the nuclear orange stuff in an aerosol can. Real, homemade cheese.
I had seen homemade ricotta pop up here and there and I finally decided to give it a try. It is so unbelievably simple that you will wonder why people don’t just make it themselves all the time. Really. It’s like brewing your own coffee instead of going to Starbucks. It’s that simple. And it’s delicious. It’s fresh and soft, and it doesn’t have that weird, grainy texture that the stuff in the plastic containers at the grocery store seem to have.
It’s also fun. I felt like I was performing a science experiement in my kitchen. The basic idea is to separate the milk solids (the curds) from the liquid (the whey), and you do this with heat and acid. There’s a few different methods of doing it, using lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk. But they are all fairly similar. I got this recipe from Epicurious.
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
In a large pot, bring the milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil, stirring occassionally.
Add the lemon juice and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring once about halfway through, until the milk has completely curdled.
Remove from the heat and pour into a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Let the cheese drain for about an hour and refrigerate. It will make about 2 cups, maybe a bit more, and will keep for 2-3 days.
That is it. That’s all it takes to make cheese.
The commenters on Epicurious suggested omitting the salt if you wanted to use this cheese for a dessert. I didn’t find it salty at all, so I don’t think I would, but it’s something to consider.
I used the ricotta in a spread which I’ll post about next, and tossed the rest with some lemon pepper papperadelle from Trader Joes and sauteed spinach from Eatwell. It was delicious. I also think it would be great on pizzas too.