Anyone that comes in contact with me, my kitchen or my ordering habits knows I heart cheese.  I love the texture, the smell, the styles, the history, the purity of it all. I like that the smooth just has much as the hard and the stinky just as much as the faint odors. On my list of things to do in the cheeseworthy category:

Visit Murray’s cheese caves

Make homemade mozzarella

And finally one I can cross off the list:
Make homemade ricotta
[Insert proud and large beaming smile here]

I came across a recipe from Smitten Kitchen on how to make homemade ricotta and thought it would be a nice intro to the cheese-making-world. I am still looking for the right citric acid for the mozzarella anyway, so I had some time for another challenge.

The ingredients were easy to collect…

3 cups of whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice, candy thermometer, cheesecloth and a strainer

I combined the milk, cream and salt into a saucepan, attached the thermometer and turned the heat on low. There is a warning about the bottom of the pot scorching. It’s funny how the first time you make something I follow directions and then by the third or fourth time around I tend to wing it. I carefully monitored the mixture, stirring it occasionally, until it reached 190 degrees F.

I turned the heat off, added the lemon juice and stirred it a few times to incorporate. I left the pot alone for 5 minutes.

I prepped the cheesecloth, strainer and bowl while I waited. I also used this time to clean up the counter. I can’t help myself.

I then poured the curds and whey into the strainer lined with cheesecloth and let the curds strain away from the whey. Can we discuss how happy I am to really know what ‘curds and whey’ are? I mean all of these years of  “eating her curds and whey” and now I know and can attest to what that actually is. It really is the little things. Who knew Little Miss Muffet had this going for her.

The original directions said to leave the mixture for at least an hour. At one hour it is supposed to be tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it is supposed to be spreadable but a bit firmer,  like cream cheese.

I left my curds hanging out for about 3 hours, since the whey kept separating from the curd, I figured it was safe to leave it alone for longer. You can’t judge the texture based on this point anyway as the ricotta will firm up more when it is refrigerated.

Here is the finished product! The most amazing ricotta you have ever put in your face. I served it on a spoon to my mouth when it was just me and then on amazing garlic bread with salt, pepper and truffle oil to my dinner guests. One you go homemade, you’ll never go back.

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” ~ Harriet Van Horne