I’m going to take a guess here: You probably haven’t ever made your own cheese before. It’s ok, you’re not alone. Up until a few weeks ago, I had never even considered venturing into the unknown territory of amateur cheesemaking. But then, over happy hour drinks, a friend mentioned her interest in trying her hand at it, and my ears perked up. Later that night, as I flipped through the pages of my latest Bon Appetit, I serendipitously happened to see a recipe for ricotta—the editors vowed it was a breeze and totally worth it. With two mentions of homemade cheese in just one day, I felt it was necessary to at least attempt a batch.
Following a super simple recipe, my first attempt yielded a delicious batch of fresh ricotta, and I couldn’t help but ask myself what the hell I’ve been doing all this time. While buying from the store is ultimately more convenient than making it at home, I will definitely be whipping up a batch for any recipe that has ricotta as a key ingredient.
Pour milk into large saucepan. Slowly heat to just below a boil. If you want, you can use an instant read thermometer—aim for 200 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, look for that almost rolling boil stage where gentle bubbles form across the surface of the milk. Once it reaches this point, remove the milk from heat.
Add lemon juice and kosher salt to the milk and stir gently to combine.
Let milk/lemon juice mixture sit for 10 minutes undisturbed. You’ll notice separation happening at this point. You should see clumps of white curds and watery yellow liquid (this is the whey). If you aren’t sure about whether curds are forming, dip a slotted spoon into the mixture. If after 10 minutes you still see a lot of unseparated milk, add another tablespoon of lemon juice. I added one extra dose to mine.
Now you will separate the curds from the whey. First, line your fine mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Before you pour the whole pot over the strainer, you might want to scoop out any large cheese curds first and place them in the sieve in order to prevent crazy splashes and a messy kitchen. If you don’t care, then pour away!
Allow the curds to drain for 20 minutes. If they get too dry for your liking, stir a bit of the whey back into the curds.
Then your ricotta is ready! You can use the cheese immediately, or you can store in your fridge in an airtight container for a few days.
Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com. According to her Cheese Horoscope, Frankie Schneckloth has blue cheese in her future.