Ricotta often gets a bad rep because many ricotta cheeses sold in the stores taste bland and grainy. In my opinion, it's a disservice to call that stuff "ricotta." "Real ricotta" taste rich, creamy, and even a little buttery. It is good stuff and quite a treat. Real ricotta can be hard to find, but ricotta is easy to make at home.
After learning more about making ricotta cheese, I found that Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta had many accolades. Guess I need to go there next time I visit New York. ;) Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta helped Deb from Smitten Kitchen find "ricotta nirvana," and Martha Stewart even dubbed it her favorite. So, I was sold. The technique for making this ricotta was easy, too!
Cheese is only as good as the milk, and I would recommend "splurging" for a high quality milk. I used fresh milk from Royal Crest Dairy. Royal Crest Dairy provides home delivery of milk here in Colorado. The milk is high quality and free of all of the bad stuff often found in milk today. The milk tastes much creamier and smoother than anything from the store, too. And, another plus for homemade ricotta: it is cheaper to make homemade ricotta than to purchase the high quality good stuff at a gourmet grocery store.
Because the ricotta is moisture laden, it is best to eat it quickly. "Simple is good," and you can serve a scoop of ricotta on grilled bread with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. I'll be sharing another recipe idea with you this week, too!
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Yields 4 cups
1 gallon whole milk
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt, to taste (optional)
Pour the milk into a large, reactive pot and season lightly with salt, and place it over high heat. Heat the milk to 190ºF (use a thermometer), and stir to keep it from scorching.
Once the milk reaches 190F, turn off the heat, and add the lemon juice. Stir slowly until you see curds beginning to form, and this should happen almost immediately. Allow the curds to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with cheesecloth, and place it over another bowl so that it can catch the whey. Pour the curds and whey into the colander, and allow the curds to strain for about an hour. You can discard or save the whey.
Eat the cheese right away, or transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready for use.
Source: The Tasting Table, inspired by Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta