I have really fallen in love with Ricotta cheese over the last year or two, trying to work the delicate, curdled cheese into everything from Flapjacks with Blueberries, Sandwich toppings and rich fillings for aubergine involtini. At first, shop-bought Ricotta was just fine but in December I was browsing the Donna Hay iPad app and I saw her very easy recipe for home-made, fresh Ricotta. I promised to make my own and have just not gotten around to doing it until yesterday.
I was a bit nervous to make my own cheese as I’ve never done anything like it (even though the recipe could not be simpler). It also didn’t help that I half-read the recipe and landed up using a cup more milk than the specified amount (which was 3 cups). I was scared two tablespoons of lemon juice wouldn’t be enough to curlde the milk and with a slip of the hand added about five tablespoons instead of the intended three (can you tell that this wasn’t my finest moment, culinary wise?). Never-the-less, I carried on and after about 30 minutes, I had the most beautiful, soft Ricotta. None of those firm, rubbery curds you find in store-bought Ricotta. Instead I had creamy, fluffy and delicate Ricotta which had the slightest citrus flavour (which I actually loved).
So here, I’m giving you my (accidentally) adapted recipe but if you wish to follow Donna’s recipe, use only 3 cups of full cream (whole) milk and two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
Makes approximately 1.5-2 cups of fresh Ricotta cheese
4 cups (1 litre (0.26 gallons)) full cream (whole) milk
1 cup (250ml (8.45 fluid ounces)) double (thick) cream
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes (I used Maldon)
5 tbsp (approximately 75ml (2.54 fluid ounces)) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Line a sieve with cheesecloth/muslin (in Afrikaans it’s called Melkdoek), and place the sieve over a deep bowl.
- In a large saucepan, bring the milk, cream and salt to a boil, stirring constantly to ensure it doesn’t burn at the bottom.
- The moment the milk begins to boil, add the lemon juice.
- Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 2 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for 20 minutes until the curds start to separate from the whey. (At this point my curds were tiny and not all that separated. I thought it flopped but carried on anyway and found it drained beautifully, so don’t worry if you don’t have big curds)
- After 20 minutes, pour the curds and whey through the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow to drain for an hour until the ricotta has drained well and has become relatively firm.
- Remove from the cheesecloth and place in a bowl. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.