Summer is upon us with just a few more days until the official beginning of the season, but there’s no reason to wait to start enjoying those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer so let’s start the party! I feel like breaking into Alice Cooper’s Schools Out, but luckily for you, I’ll restrain myself. (I do love to sing, unfortunately my singing voice leaves a lot to be desired….sigh) But with girls the done for the year, and most of my work at school completed, I’m seriously ready to start this summer off, and what better way to start than by tackling a recipe that I’ve been trying to work in for the last few months.
They say timing is everything, and with a bit of extra rest (and an extra gallon of milk in the house) I decided this weekend I would try my hand at homemade ricotta. It’s also perfect timing on my part since June is National Dairy Month! It’s no secret that the old Chef loves his dairy products, from cheese to heavy cream and everything in between, you’ll always find a good assortment of dairy products in my refrigerator, and a good many of my posts have dairy in them. You can take away the red meat, but don’t ever take my cheese!
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was now working with the Mid Atlantic Dairy Association, you can find me on the Dairy Lovers page at the Dairy Spot. They really did a nice job with their website and the old chef even has his own page there! Since June is National Dairy Month, the nice folks at the Mid Atlantic Dairy Association are holding a give away of a Dairy Gift Pack , with goodies from Williams-Sonoma , Cabot Cheese, a $50 Visa gift card, and so much more. To enter all you have to do is click on the link for the DairySpot or sign up on their Facebook page, and while you’re visiting the DairySpot, check out my page too!
A little over two months ago David Leite featured a recipe by Melissa Hamilton on Leite’s Culinaria, and I had mentioned to David on Google+ that I needed to learn to make this glorious cheese, so I could teach my students. Well things started getting a little crazy at work, and I never got to it. Now that I have made it, and tasted the homemade ricotta, I’m so sorrythat I didn’t do it sooner. The recipe is so simple and pretty much fool proof, so if you have never made your own ricotta cheese, then I urge you to give this recipe a try, you’ll be so happy that you did.
Now here comes the disclaimer, this version of ricotta cheese is not the real ricotta, in the sense that we used lemon juice to change our whole milk into curds, when in fact the real deal, is made form the left over whey from cheese making. And that’s where ricotta actually gets its name from as it is “twice cooked” or ricotta. Now I don’t know if I’ll ever be ambitious enough to try to make the real version of ricotta, but since this version looks like ricotta, tastes like ricotta and feels like ricotta it’s going to do for my needs, and if it were any easier to make, it would almost make itself (another great reason to make this version).
I did strain my ricotta a little longer for a dryer version since I will be making one of Mama Jeanette’s Famous Ricotta Cheesecakes from this wonderful cheese, but if you like it a little wetter that’s an easy fix, just place the curds directly into your storage container instead of draining them.
- 1 gallon (3.8 Liters) organic whole milk
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 cup (230 gm) plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (3 lemons)
- Using two large pots, make a double boiler by placing the smaller one inside the larger pot.
- Once you find a good pair to use, fill the bottom pot with enough water so it comes about halfway up the sides of the smaller insert pot.
- Add the milk into the insert and heat it over medium heat until the temperature reaches 190°F (88°C) It will take about 15 minutes, to reach that temperature. Make sure to use a thermometer to check the temperature.
- Add the salt, yogurt, and lemon juice to the milk, and stir with a wooden spoon for just long enough to mix everything together. adjust the hear to maintain the temperature of the milk. *
- Maintain the milk’s temperature at 190°F (88°C) for 25 minutes, (you may have to remove the insert if the milk begins to get too hot)
- DO NOT stir the milk while the ricotta curds are forming!
- When 25 minutes has passed, using a skimmer carefully lift all the ricotta curds out of the whey and transfer them to a fine-mesh strainer (or use cheesecloth inside a pasta strainer)*
- If you are using your ricotta for cheesecake, let it drain for about 1 hour, then dump it into a bowl and fluff a little with a fork.
- Transfer your ricotta to a covered container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. (if you prefer a wetter ricotta, transfer the curds directly to your storage container)
Please do try this recipe, I’m so sorry I put it off for so long, it really was easy and the ricotta cheese you get from this process has so much more flavor than the store bought variety!
Help me celebrate National Dairy Month, by making your favorite dairy recipes, and don’t forget to stop by the The Dairy Spot to enter to win that lovely Dairy Gift Pack! And Please do stop back later in the week to see what I make out of that delicious ricotta cheese! Have a good week my friends!