Making ricotta at home is something that never really occured to me, but I have fantasies about raising goats and sheep in my backyard to make my own cheese. So, when I saw Bon Appetit's article on making ricotta, I knew I had to give it a try. Perhaps I would find something to quell the at-home cheesemaking craving until I can buy that farm in Oregon.
Ricotta isn't technically a cheese. Literally translated to mean "recooked," ricotta is made from whey, the by-product of cheese-making. Since I am still without that backyard herd and as such, whey-less, I used Bon Appetit's method of adding salt and lemon juice to milk to create the curds that form ricotta.
If you're going to try this at home (and by all means, you should), unlike me, make sure you pay attention to Bon Appetit's recommendation that you only drain the ricotta for a minute or two and cover it when you put it in the fridge to cool. Although it looked moist to start, my ricotta ended up drier than I would have liked. It still tasted great and worked well with the pesto and broccoli that I served it with.
This may not take the place of having my own farm where I can raise goats to make my own cheese, but it sure tastes good in the meantime. Enjoy!
As laid out in Bon Appetit, January 2009
8 cups whole milk
1 t salt
3 T lemon juice
Bring milk and salt to a simmer in a heavy bottomed saucepan. While milk is heating, place four layers of cheesecloth in a colander over a medium bowl. When milk comes to a simmer, pour in lemon juice and continue to simmer until curds form. Use a metal skimmer to lift the curds out and transfer to the prepared colander. Let the curds drain for just a minute or two (really - they will dry out more as they cool) and transfer them to a small bowl. Cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge to cool.
Serve ricotta on freshly made bread with a drizzle of honey or in place of the goat cheese in this simple dessert. The day I made the ricotta, I had just brought home some broccoli rabe. I steamed the broccoli and tossed it with a mixture of the fresh ricotta and leftover arugula pesto.