Making ricotta cheese
This Christmas Natalie, a very good friend of mine (who happens to be the person who proof reads my blog for me) gave me a cheese making kit. Except for the milk, it contained everything you need to make ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Because cheese is not something I have ever made, it was not long before I had to give it a go. I started with ricotta cheese which turned out to be really simple. So simple in fact I have to share with you how to make it.
As far as special equipment goes all you need is a square of muslin and a thermometer. If you don’t already have a thermometer I would recommend you get one. It is a very valuable tool in the kitchen and takes the guess work out of so many recipes. Never again will you overcook a piece of meat, and it is essential when making confectionery.
In a nut shell, all you need to do is heat some milk with a little citric acid (available from chemists, wine making supply shops, and on the internet) and heat to 85C whilst stirring occasionally. Then strain through the muslin and that’s it! Really.
Is it worth the effort?
To be honest, it tastes (and costs) pretty much the same as the ricotta you buy in the shop. However, it is a fun thing to do and I really think cooking should be about having fun. If nothing else it certainly gives you a talking point when you serve a slice of cheesecake or any other dish with homemade ricotta to your friends.
Using ricotta cheese
- Use to make a cheesecake – Try my Baked lemon ricotta cheesecake
- Spread on crackers or bread with a sprinkling of herbs
- Serve with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey
- Make a spinach and ricotta lasagne
- 4.5 litres of full fat milk
- 1½ tsp citric acid
- pinch salt
- Pour the milk into a large saucepan. Dissolve the citric acid in a couple of tablespoons of cooled boiled water, then stir into the milk and add a pinch of salt.
- Place the saucepan over a low heat. Frequently stir gently to prevent the milk scorching on the base of the pan while heating it.
- Continue to heat until the milk has reached 85℃. During this time the milk will separate to small curds (solids) and whey (a yellowish liquid). Remove the pan from the heat, cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes,
- Line a colander with muslin and pour the the mixture into the colander. Gather up the muslin to form a bag and suspend over a deep bowl or pan. Allow to drain for about 20 minutes.
- Use the ricotta as required or spoon into a container, seal and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For a creamier cheese, stir in a couple of tablespoons of double cream, before chilling.