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14/03/2010

Homemade ricotta [Recipe]

You may think life's too short to start making your own cheese, but homemade ricotta is a proverbial revelation. Not only is it laughably easy, it's just miles from the lumpy, watery matter of the supermarkets: the real stuff is mild, milky and proud.

It's also enormously useful. You can dot a pizza with it, or spread it (ideally when it's still warm) on hot toast with a bit of jam, or fold it into an omelette, or sprinkle it onto salad, or stuff canneloni or cannoli with it. The Sicilians make a glorious cake with it called cassata. It has far less fat than cream, so you can use it for smooth, silky pasta sauces that are unexpectedly easy to digest, and won't leave you feeling like you've swallowed a brick.

I add some cream to mine which obviously makes it richer – leave it out if you like. I also use buttermilk to curdle the milk: lemon juice and vinegar would both do the job, as of course would rennet. However you do it, you'll be left with something very fine, and there's something pleasing, almost alchemical, in watching it curdle and set.

Homemade ricotta

Makes about 250g

1l organic whole milk
250ml cream
1 tsp salt
250ml buttermilk

Place all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to 90 degrees Celsius, stirring frequently to make sure the mix isn't scorching. (If you haven't got a thermometer, heat everything until it's just about to boil.) Remove from the heat and ladle carefully into a colander lined with cheesecloth. Leave to drain for about 20 minutes, then gather into a bundle and press gently to squeeze out the excess liquid. If you're not using it straight away, seal the cheese in something airtight in the fridge – it'll keep for 3 0r 4 days.

11 comments:

  1. I need to make this! Liking your recipes a lot mister.

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  2. I need to make ricotta again soon. It feels like forever since I last made cheese.

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  3. I never thought it would be such a simple process!

    Do you think we can infuse the milk with herbs for flavored ricotta? Maybe thyme ricotta... or even chocolate!

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  4. That sounds super. I love ricotta. Had no idea it was so easy to make!

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  5. Graphic Foodie - Thanks, do!

    George - It's brilliant, isn't it? Genuinely one of the most satisfying things to make in the kitchen.

    Amanda - Definitely. Would be perfect with herbs or garlic or even sugar if you were using it for sweet things.

    Fi - I know, it's amazingly easy.

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  6. I've always been a bit scared of Ricotta since the time I read on the packet that it was 80% fat. 80%! It does make more sense to make yours, no packet to scare me. And your mention of ricotta and jam made my mouth water...

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  7. Doh! Something was nagging at me, it wasn't ricotta, it was mascarpone! (Pig now shuffling off, mortified)

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  8. Oh I want it I want it I want it!! It looks so damn pretty. There is something about bunging a load of stuff in muslin that warms my heart deeply. I feel the same when I am making labneh. I must try this.

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  9. well i say life is too short to eat bad cheese! lovely recipe, ollie. and so versatile, as you say. x shayma

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  10. Brilliant. And so easy to prepare - piece of cake or, should I say, piece of cheese!

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  11. Me me me! I want some! It looks so simple to make and yet so stunning when it's done. I'll definitely be trying my hand at this sometime soon...

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