Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Photo of Fresh Ricotta Cheese on a knifeEasy Cheesy
Many moons ago I took a cheese-making class. It was great fun and much easier than you would think. Granted, I am not currently aging my handmade cheese in my own mountain caves, nor do I plan to be. But, that would be very cool…no pun intended.

I will, however, make some of the easier cheeses from time to time to add to recipes where freshness matters. By far, the easiest to make is fresh ricotta. The first time I ever made the cheese outside of class, I used it in a lasagna that I made totally from scratch—noodles and everything. The results were ridiculously good. But, I was exhausted.

You don’t need to get quite as nerdy as I did to try making fresh ricotta. For one thing, who really has that time? And second, you will get great results using good quality pre-made pasta and sauce.

Or, forget the pasta altogether and slather this fresh ricotta cheese on some crostini. Yum!

Fresh Ricotta Cheese Recipe
Yields about 1-1/2 cups of cheese

1 quart whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plain whole yogurt
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest or to taste (optional)
Fresh ground pepper to taste (optional)

Prep the bowl
Line a colander with a quadruple layer of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl.

Heat the ingredients
In a large pot over medium-high heat, whisk together the first five ingredients until smooth. Bring to a simmer and heat until the mixture just begins to curdle. (For a drier ricotta with bigger curds, continue to simmer for one to two minutes longer until the mixture completely separates.)

Strain the cheese
Pour the mixture into a colander. Stop draining when the mixture begins to look like ricotta (about 5 to 15 minutes—depending on how dry you like it).

Add the lemon zest and pepper, if using, and mix gently.

To store
Transfer the ricotta to an airtight container and store it for up to two weeks.

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