Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta translates to “recooked” or “cooked again.” The name for this wonderful cooking cheese came about because it was originally (and still is, in many parts of Italy) made from the whey drained from cow’s, goat’s, or ewe’s milk after making other cheeses, such as mozzarella. Today, ricotta is most often made starting with whole or low-fat milk. In addition to numerous applications in the pastry kitchen, ricotta is used in savory dishes such as lasagna and ravioli. Ricotta is easy to make; however, most consumers today prefer to purchase it ready-made. The main drawback in making your own ricotta is the time involved, but the finished cheese will keep for up to 2 weeks stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

  • 6 quarts (5 L 760 ml) low-fat milk
  • 6 drops lemon juice
  • 1 pound (455 g) unflavored yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) salt
  • ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream

Method

  1. Pour the milk into a plastic container and stir in the lemon juice. Cover, then place the mixture in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the yogurt and the salt. Transfer to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 2 minutes; a thick layer of curds should form on the top.
  3. Remove from the heat. Strain into a bowl, pouring it through a fine mesh strainer (chinois) lined with cheesecloth. Reserve ½ cup (120 ml) of the whey (liquid) and discard the remainder.
  4. Spread the hot curds to cool on a sheet pan lined with baking paper. Separate the curds as much as possible by rubbing them between your hands.
  5. Once the cheese has cooled, place it in a bowl and stir in the reserved whey and the heavy cream.