Homemade Ricotta

This is so easy to make, and it is really versatile.  So far I’ve put it on a cheese plate served with cranberry chutney, and I’ve used it as a pasta filling.  You can vary the texture by draining it for more or less time – a short draining time will make it nice and creamy and light.  I strained mine a bit too long, and it ended up a little drier and more crumbly than I would have liked.

I checked out a lot of web sites to figure out the recipe, but by far the most beautiful photos I found were on smitten kitchen.  I need a good camera one day soon!

What you need:

3 cups of 2% milk

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

What you do:

1.  Line a fine sieve with several layers of cheesecloth, and place over a large bowl.

2.  Place the milk, along with the salt, on medium-high heat and stir until it is just about to boil. It will be steaming and foaming on top at this point.  (190 degrees if you are using a thermometer.)  Remove from the heat before it boils.

3.  Add the lemon juice and just give it one or two stirs.  Let it sit, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.

4.  Pour into the cheesecloth-lined sieve with the bowl underneath.  An awful lot of whey will come out, so you may need to empty the bowl and put it back again to collect more liquid.  The consistency depends on the amount of time you leave this to strain.  I left it for an hour, but mine ended up being too dry by the time it cooled.  Next time I will try 40 minutes and see how I like it.

For these toasts I just cut a baguette into thin slices, brushed them with olive oil, and sprinkled on some sea salt.  I broiled them until slightly browned, then let them cool.  I served them with a little ricotta spread and topped with cranberry chutney.  They are also great with the ricotta alone, drizzled with a little olive oil.

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