At its essence, cheese making is a very simple process: adding something acidic to milk, then heating it, will cause it to separate into curds and whey – its solid and liquid components. Draining off the liquid and keeping the solid part (the curds) is the starting point for all cheeses, most of which have several additional steps after this, and typically involve a maturation time of several months or more, but Ricotta is the quickest and simplest of them all.
Simply add lemon juice to some whole milk, heat gently for around 20 minutes to separate the curds from the whey, then once separated and drained, you have ricotta. One of the nice things about making your own ricotta is that you can make it as firm or as soft as you like; you'll find that after draining, the ricotta will naturally be quite firm and crumbly, and you can simply add back in some of the whey to soften it to your liking. For some recipes such as my ricotta and herb dumplings, it's good to keep it nice and firm, so the dumplings hold their shape when braised in the sauce.
- sea salt
- 2.5 litres whole milk
- 2 lemons, juice of
Combine the milk and lemon juice in a large pan and slowly heat to 83C; the curds will begin to separate from the whey. Hold at this temperature for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dampen and fold muslin into 5-6 layers. Carefully Ladle the curds onto the muslin and bring the corners together to hang. Drain in the fridge for 4 hours.
Salt to 1% by weight.