Have you ever found yourself filled with an unspoken longing to quit everything, run away to the country, and spend your days frolicking in the fields and making cheese?
If you say no, you are a dirty liar. Everyone with a soul wants to spend their days creating joy from curds and whey.
Although I have long had such a dream, I thought it was beyond my reach unless I were to become independently wealthy and pursue cheese making with abandon. However, as I was reading the latest issue of Bon Appétit, the heavens opened and a voice spoke to me from the pages of their article “Cook Like a Pro.”
“WHY AREN’T YOU MAKING RICOTTA YET?!” the article asked me.
“That is a VERY GOOD QUESTION!” I said, out loud.
I knew it was possible to make one’s own ricotta, but I had so far failed to try it. My mom made probably four pounds of it this year at Christmas for lasagna and she said it was super easy. My friend Kaitlyn had made it and said it was super easy. I had no excuse.
I decided to follow the recipe in Bon Appétit after being quickly overwhelmed by the many ways the internet tells you to make ricotta. I appreciated that they used a cup of heavy cream to two cups of milk instead of a measly two tablespoons, obviously taking milk fat very seriously.
I deemed this recipe a huge success and promptly made a second batch. Christopher, leery of me shoving spoons near his mouth going “try this!” after an unfortunate banana pancake incident, accepted a bite with utter skepticism.
“I don’t like ricotta,” he told me. I waved my ricotta laden spoon. He sighed and took a bite. “Hm,” he said. He took another bite, looked at me, then clutched the container to himself possessively. “Apparently” he said, “I love ricotta.”
Come with me on this cheese making journey, my friends. We can hold hands.
Fresh Ricotta – Recipe from Bon Appétit, April 2014. Instructions are from Allison.
- We are about to be cheese makers. Take a moment and prepare yourself for this joyous event.
- Take two cups of whole milk, a cup of heavy cream, and 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt. Add them to a medium sauce pan. I used a 3-quart, I’m sure 2-quart would work just fine.
- Heat until the milk just comes to a boil, about 200 degrees. I used my candy thermometer for precision. I heated it on a lowish heat for the majority of the time, then increased to a medium heat after the mixture hit about 160 degrees. As the milk heats, if you may notice skin forming on the top of the milk. If you gently continue to stir the milk throughout, you mixture will be skin free.
- After the milk comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and promptly add the acid, which can be either two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar. This will cause the milk to curdle, forming, well, curds. I used vinegar after Kaitlyn told me using lemons gave her ricotta a lemony taste. Give it a good stir then let it sit for five minutes.
- Meanwhile, arrange a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Line it with two layers of cheesecloth. (Cheesecloth is quite easy to find, I’ve had luck with almost every local grocery store except Target, the betrayer. It’s in the aisle with the overpriced kitchen gadgets). Carefully pour the mixture into the cheesecloth. Watch with delight as the whey begins to drain off, leaving incredible cheesy joy.
- You can let it drain for as long as you like, depending upon how thick you like ricotta. I found mine was perfect after an hour.
- DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WHEY. DO NOT. STOP! We are going to make bread with it. It freezes very nicely.
- You have made cheese. You are magnificent, like a cheetah or a soaring eagle.