I will be the first to admit that I am cautious about dairy products. Mass produced dairy from factory farms is full of antibiotics and devoid of nutrients. That is why I highly suggest using organic milk if you want to nourish your body along with your soul with this wonderful, easy cheese. Despite that I have seen people make ricotta many times and I have ready several recipes, I did fail at my first attempt because I did not add enough lemon juice, nor did I bring the milk to a high enough temperature. You must be patient. If you have the flame very high the bottom will scorch and you will have brown ricotta. Yuck! Just a side note: I have never bought cheesecloth because I have an abundance of muslin from my designing days, but I imagine they function equally well. Also, I want to use this same method with goat’s milk because the idea of homemade, rennant-free goat cheese thrills me. Anyway, have fun making this Italian specialty that can really be a blank canvas for anything and don’t forget to check out the ideas below. Bon appetito!
½ gallon organic whole milk
½ tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Optional: zest of 1 lemon (why waste it?!)
Pour milk into a heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil. Then turn down heat and reduce milk to a simmer and stir in lemon juice. The milk will start to curdle and the whey (yellow liquid) will separate. This will take a minute or two. Once cheese is thick and slightly crumbly pour into a cheesecloth or muslin-lined fine mesh strainer and allow to drain for 30 min to an hour. Wring out cheesecloth. If you want a very dry cheese, squeeze out nearly all the liquid (this works well for making gnocchi). For a wetter cheese, gently squeeze out about half the liquid. Stir in lemon zest if desired. Serve warm or chilled. Keeps about 5 days refrigerated.