I’ve been asked a lot how I make this cheese and here is the answer. The recipe produces very delicate and smooth ricotta. It really matters what kind of dairy you use: organic whole milk and not ultra-pasteurized cream are preferred. I also want to emphasize the importance of timing: do not overheat the milk-cream mixture, and do not let it boil. Otherwise, you will end up with tough and rubbery curd. And, please, remember that the adjective “fresh” is applicable for a couple of days only; so consume the cheese rather soon.
By the way, speaking of fresh cheese. A long time ago I posted my favorite recipe of Russian fresh cheese – tvorog (“kefir cheese” or “farmers’ cheese”) which is made from buttermilk. That one is quite good too, but in a different, very tangy way.
Makes about 1 lb
- 2 liter (½ gallon) whole milk
- 1 cup whipping cream, preferably organic, pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
In a large pot combine the milk, cream, and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching, until an instant-read thermometer registers 180F. Add the lemon juice, stir. Reduce the heat to low and continue heating the mixture until the curds form (not just milk curdles – it happens immediately after the lemon juice added, but when the whey separates and the curds are obvious). But by all means, DO NOT let the mixture come to the boil. Remove from the burner and let it stand for a little while (for about 15 – 20 minutes) to cool slightly. Meanwhile, line a sieve with several layers of cheese cloth. Set the sieve over a large bowl (if you plan to keep the whey) or over the sink (if you plan to discard the whey). Transfer the cheese into the lined sieve and drain for about an hour (or longer, if you plan to use the ricotta as a filling in pies or pastries, or if any particular recipe specifies so). Transfer the cheese into a lidded container and store in the refrigerator. Consume within two days. The ricotta will firm up after several hours of refrigerating.
Note: I usually use the whey as milk substitute for making crêpes. It also can be used as a base for protein cocktails.