My first actual recipe post on my new website. That’s sort of exciting, for me anyways.
I know there are things that still need to be tweaked here and there, like the ‘print recipe’ feature isn’t working. So thanks for your patience as I figure some of this out. All the comments I’ve received have been so positive, encouraging and supportive. You guys are the best!
Alright, onto this ricotta that I’ve been tweeting about for weeks!
A lot of people only know ricotta for being the ‘weird’ cheese in between layers of sauce and noodle in lasagna. Yes, it is that ‘weird’ cheese. That’s my husband’s technical term for it. This weird cheese is the EASIEST cheese, ever, to make at home!!!!!
I always end up with gobs of heavy cream in my fridge. I think it’s my subconscious’s way of forcing me to try new recipes. And well, it’s working. Subconscious, keep insisting on me buying the honkin jub of heavy cream, good things come from it! Which is how I came about making ricotta. I did a quick google search on how to make ricotta and I came across a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Her recipes have always produced good results in the past, so I went for it. Yep, once again, I struck gold. Curdled, creamy, cheesy gold! It was really delicious still warm right after it drained, but then once it chilled in the fridge, WOW. It was almost like a mascarpone; very thick and rich. The lemon flavor was very prominent and added an amazing tang that complimented the creaminess of the cheese. I immediately envisioned using it for a cheesecake…
And then I ate my first batch of ricotta in 1 day, so much for that cheesecake idea.
Then I remember what was in it (lots of heavy cream) and I made a little commitment to myself to not do that again.
And then I did it again.
Once again, I ate the entire batch, in 1 day. But this time I changed the ricotta recipe a bit. I wanted to make it lower fat and I wanted the recipe to yield a higher amount of actual ricotta. To do this I lowered the milk fat and used more milk. Simple enough. But I was worried it wouldn’t turn out. It’s a logical enough worry, sometimes when you lower the fat they turn out terrible. But not this batch of ricotta, nope, it turned out wonderful, AGAIN! It’s not as rich as the first batch, it’s a little more ‘loose’ and you can taste more of the curdles, like a ricotta you buy from the store. It has less of a lemon flavor, but you can still taste the lemon (which is seriously good, don’t omit the lemon!!!)
Did you know ricotta was originally made from the whey that’s drained from cheese? It must be true, wikipedia said so. I learned that after I made these 2 batches from milk and was researching what to do with all the leftover whey. Good thing I saved the whey, now I just need to get to using it to make even more ricotta! Waste not, want not!
The recipe below is for the second batch of ricotta I made. The ‘lower fat’ but still very rich and creamy version.
Makes 1 cup of ricotta
4 cups whole milk
1 cup non fat milk
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
Pour the milks and salt into a saucepan. Attach a thermometer to the side (candy or deep-fry thermometer).
Heat the milk until it reaches 190 degrees, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t scorch on the bottom This takes only a 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice (really, only stir it a couple times). Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Do not touch it, just let it sit.
Double layer a cheesecloth and line a colander with it, place the lined colander over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for anywhere from 30 minutes – 2 hours. You can also tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang it on your sink faucet and strain the whey into a bowl.
The ricotta firm as it cools, so the texture that it is in the cheesecloth isn’t the texture it will be after a few hours of being chilled. Here are approximate times and texture outcomes (after it’s chilled):
30 minutes = loose curdled ricotta (more like cottage cheese).
1 hour = firmer (but still loose) spreadable ricotta (most similar to what you buy in the store).
2 hours =thick, rich, firm (almost like mascarpone or cream cheese).
Scrape the ricotta from the cheesecloth and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Save the whey and use it for:
Smoothies. Freeze the whey into ice cubes or use the liquid. Whey is a great source of protein.
Bread. Use the whey as the liquid in a fresh batch of bread.
Oatmeal. Instead of water, add the whey to your morning oatmeal for some added protein.
I got it in my head that I wanted to make a lowfat version of the ricotta, so I started experimenting. I used only 1% milk, but did everything else the same and the ricotta turned out delicious! Next up, I’ll try using nonfat milk!