Making Ricotta Cheese

I was inspired by a blog post on Smitten Kitchen on how to make homemade ricotta cheese. I always like to experiment with new things and have never made cheese so decided I just had to try it.

We had some friends over to celebrate the 4th and figured this was as good a time as any. As has been tradition for several years, I made a Grilled Turkey for the main course, so ricotta bruschetta for an appetizer seemed like a good idea.

As with any good cheese, you start with good quality, high-fat content milk. I purchased whole milk and fresh cream at our Franklin Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Making the cheese is a simple four-step process and does not take very long.

Step 1 – Add 3 cups whole milk and 1 cup cream to a non-reactive pan. Heat over medium heat until a candy thermometer or instant read thermometer shows 175 to 185. Do not let it boil. The above recipe calls for 190 degrees but, after some research, I found that this range worked well for me.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Step 2 – Off the heat, add 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and stir twice slowly and gently. Set a timer for 5 minutes.

Step 3 – After 5 minutes pour the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth set over a large bowl. Leave undisturbed for 1 to 2 hours to allow the whey to separate from the curds.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Step 4 – Serve. (I put the cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve.) The cheese should be good for a couple of days.

I allowed guests to make their own bruschetta, serving a very good olive oil, wildflower honey from Whole Foods, and Balsamic Vinegar with sea salt. The salt does improve the taste. I also made shaved baby zucchini and shaved asparagus dressed with olive oil and salt and pepper to use as an additional topping.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

People were skeptical at first but changed their mind after the first bite. This will definitely not be the last time I make homemade ricotta. My next experiment will be to use it with homemade pasta. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Steve Anderson provides information to insurance agents about how they can use technology to increase revenue and/or reduce expenses. He speaks professionally to hundreds of agents each year on the future of technology, the social web, and how insurance agencies can establish their Internet presence.

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