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Monday, April 15, 2013

Ricotta Cheese

I've been posting some pictures and Facebook statuses of the homemade shenanigans I've gotten into lately.  So I was thinking that I would just put everything in one blogtastic location, in order to cut down on the amount of times that I end up typing and emailing recipes and/or instructions!  I figured a good first recipe would be for ricotta cheese, which is only just slightly more involved than boiling water.

What are you going to need?

4 cups whole milk
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream

That's it!

First you want to cut a piece of cheesecloth that--when unfolded--is long enough to be folded onto itself twice, so that you have four layers of cloth.  The kind that I purchase is packaged in sort of a weird tri-fold situation, so I cut about 22 inches of it.  I unfolded it and then folded it in half once, and in half once again.  Voila!  A large-ish square that fits in an 8-10" handheld strainer!  So set it in the strainer (this will be more clear in one of the following pictures) and set the strainer up over a bowl or your sink.

Next, you'll put a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat.  Pour in the milk, buttermilk, and heavy cream.  Bring this to a boil (if you're using a thermometer (like in the picture), you'll want the liquid to reach 185 degrees.  By the time it boils, most of the curds (solids) will have separated from the whey (liquid).  The following picture is at about 160 degrees, so this is not completely separated.

Once the curds have separated from the whey, take the pot off the burner and use a slotted spoon to put the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer.  To be honest, the slotted spoon that I have was taking WAY too long, so I just used a tiny hand strainer to scoop up about 1/2 cup at a time.  Every few scoops, I put in a pinch of salt (I use pink Himalayan salt, but use whatever floats your boat).

If you want, you can leave it like this to finish draining.  I tied my cheesecloth around the faucet so I could use the strainer for a few other projects.  The draining takes 3-5 minutes if you like the cheese more wet, and 5-10 minutes if you like it more dry.  If you drain it too much, you can just add a little milk to it and it'll be fine.  

After it's finished draining, put the cheese in whatever storage container you're using.  It should keep in the refrigerator for a week or two (okay, let's be honest...any time I've made this, it's never lasted longer than a week before I've used it all...but I know other people who have made it and said that it lasted for at least two weeks).

 There ya go!  Homemade ricotta cheese.  :-)  It is WAY more delicious than anything you'll find at the store.  I think this time I'm making lasagna rolls with it; however, one of my favorite ways to eat it is on toast with marmalade on top of it.  Yeah, I'm weird like that.

Happy cheese-making!

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