It looks like this is my "make everything from scratch" week. No, I'm not making my own cheddar yet. But Ricotta? Ricotta is easy, and so much better than what you can buy. Especially the stuff at Safeways in the plastic tubs, which has this rubbery consistency... Homemade, really fresh ricotta is very light, and I have to stop myself from just eating it straight from the bowl. Why not? Because it's great on pizza, or with fresh bread, a bit of honey, and my lavender salt.
So how to make this goodness?
For a cup, start with 1/2 gallon of milk. Yes, that's a lot of milk for a little cheese, but I guess that's why cheese is so expensive! I also add a bit of heavy cream if I have it available, I find that the ricotta gets a little smoother, but not that much... So if you want to skimp on calories leave the cream. Don't skimp on the milk, it's so much better with whole milk. Organic milk if you can afford it. Put it in a large pot, stir in a 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1 teaspoons of salt. Heat over medium low heat while stirring slowly. Curdles will start forming.
When the mixture reaches 150 F stop stirring! Keep heating until the mixture reaches 175 F, take it off the stove, and ladle it into a strainer lined with 2 layers of cheese cloth.
Leave in there for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the consistency you want to achieve. I still have to try making ricotta salata out of it, which is the same ricotta, pressed into a form for further draining, and salted for preservation. If I would just manage to not eat it before!
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1 heaping teaspoons salt
Herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, optional
Mix all ingredients in a pot, put on medium low heat, stir slowly and carefully until it reaches 150 F, then leave it alone until it reaches 175 F. Ladle slowly and carefully in strainer lined with cheesecloth, then let drain for 1 - 2 hours.