Don’t you just love ricotta cheese? I mean really, who doesn’t right? Soft, creamy and slightly sweet, ricotta cheese is great for serving with pasta, on pizza or using as a topping on toast with a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
Ricotta cheese is an Italian soft cheese made from cow’s milk and is available in nearly every grocery store I’ve ever been to in Italy and the US. I’ve always been really bummed out that ricotta isn’t as widely available in Norway however. Don’t get me wrong, this creamy Italian soft cheese is available here in Norway, but I don’t always have the time to go to 2 or 3 different stores checking to see if it is in stock. I also don’t have (or choose to not have, rather) pockets deep enough to afford store bought ricotta in Norway. Being Italian and thus an imported product, it packs a massive punch to ones wallet here in Norway.
In light of all of this, I’ve chosen to start making my own ricotta at home. It’s really easy to make ricotta at home, so easy it’s almost criminal I didn’t start making it years ago. My method for making ricotta cheese is quite simple –warm milk to a low simmer, add salt for flavor and pour in an acid (I like to use lemon juice but others also use white vinegar). The acid will curdle the milk, allowing the curds and whey to separate. Then simply strain the mixture though a sieve and ta da – the creamiest ricotta this side of Germany! Make sure you use whole-fat or full-fat milk for this recipe as it has more milk solids in it than other types of milk. You’ll also want to avoid ultra pasteurized or long-term milk (the heat treated type that is usually found in the non-refrigerated section of the store).
- 2 liters (8 ½ cups) whole, full fat milk (do not use ultra pasteurized or long-term milk)
- Juice of 2 small lemons
- 1 teaspoon salt
- On medium heat, warm the milk in a large pot to 93C/200F. The milk will get slightly thicker and may form “milk leather” on top, but give the pot a stir and turn the heat down slightly. If you do not have a thermometer, warm the milk until it’s simmering, but not boiling.
- Once the milk reaches the desired temperature, remove the pot from the heat and add in the salt and lemon juice. Stir the pot once, set it aside and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Do not (!!!) stir the pot more than once as this will break up the curds and leave you with a less creamy result.
- After 10 minutes, it’s time to strain your ricotta curds from the whey. To do this, set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheesecloth. Set the bowl in your sink. Using a large slotted spoon, scoop the larger curds into the strainer and then pour the rest of the liquid through the strainer. This will help keep the amount of mess you create to a minimum. Allow your ricotta to drain for 20-25 minutes, more if you like your ricotta drier.
- Now your ricotta is now ready to be eaten or stored in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container. Ricotta is great on pizza, toast, in cakes, pies and in pasta.