Place of Origin: Sicily, Italy
By Julianne Keskey
I’ve always loved the excitement (and sometimes the challenge) of making things from scratch that you would normally just toss into your cart at the grocery store. Not only does it taste better and fresher, it gives you a sense of accomplishment that you can’t get from a store clerk scanning a food item and bagging it up for you to take home.
Ricotta cheese has been on my radar for quite some time but, somewhere along the way I thought that buying a tub of the soft cheese would be a lot easier. Purchasing something is always easier than making it handmade but let me tell you… homemade ricotta is SO easy! I’m a little disappointed that I waited so long to dive into the world of cheese making. What I didn’t realize is that ricotta isn’t technically cheese, it’s considered a creamy curd. The word ricotta means “re-cooked” which stems from the process of using leftover hot milk whey from cheese making that still consists of milk solids. When the whey is reheated the solid milk parts are skimmed off and left to drain, leaving you with ricotta cheese.
We can thank Sicilians for creating this yummy, low-fat (ricotta contains only 15% fat), highly versatile and budget friendly “cheese.” The Greek writer Athenaeus wrote of a soft Sicilian cheese back in the years AD 170-230, which seems to be the first ever recording of ricotta. If you’re interested in learning more about Italian culture and history, checkout our Italy Unveiled tour.
Alright, here’s the recipe:
Homemade Fresh Ricotta
8 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Tbsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Prepare a colander by lining it with cheesecloth of a thin cotton linen. Rest over a bowl and set aside. Pour milk, heavy cream and salt into a large pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasion, until the liquid reaches a rolling boil.
Add lemon juice and turn heat down to low, stirring for two minutes while the hot milk begins to separate between curds and whey.
When the milk begins to curdle, pour the hot mixture over the colander and allow it to drain for one hour.
And that’s it!From here, the possibilities are endless. Ricotta cheese is best fresh so it’s recommended that you consume it within two days. Toss it in with pasta, spread it over crusty bread, serve it with a drizzle of honey or make a cheesecake. You can always use the remaining whey in different recipes so don’t pour it down the drain!