An easy recipe to make creamy whole milk ricotta at home to spread on crostini, add to pasta, spread between layers of lasagna, or just eat by the spoonful while it’s still warm.
To begin again.
I try and try and try again,
To at once start over and then again.
My family is often frustrated with the state of being, the simple condition of life. The monotony of daily life can be tiresome, wearing on us until we feel thin and weak, holding on to the threads of a well worn sweater. The same homework, chores, and piles of laundry welcome us home every night. We become lost to it.
In those moments where life seems to be swallowing you whole, I vacillate between how to manage, whether by running away and taking a break from it all or switching up the routine right where we stand. Running is not always an option, though I wish it were at times. I’d love to plop all my children on a plane and go explore life someplace else for a while. Still, some days it’s best to just stop all of the customary routine and focus energy on doing something entirely different.
Breaking the routine of spring break squalor required stuffing our car full with a single suitcase, packed between bursts of writing and the ordering of small hands entrusted with filling it. Snowboards lined the top of the truck, smallest to tallest (40″ to 76″), strapped down for the drive north. While my husband collated everyone’s gear, I sent the crew into the kitchen to turn the milk we wouldn’t be drinking into cheese we would be eating.
Whole milk ricotta starts with milk in a pot. A bit of salt and lemon juice are the only things needed to turn hot milk into spreadable cheese that can be consumed on the spot or savored over the course of a few days. We turned it into gnocchi and filled a lasagna (recipes forthcoming), and then we headed out of our urban wasteland to the north where there were bigger hills to climb…err, ride down.
- I made ricotta because I knew we wouldn’t use up all of our milk while we were out of town. It doesn’t take a lot of babysitting, especially if you have someone to stir the pot for you, and then it just strains for a while whilst you sneak spoonfuls straight from the towel.
- Use a double layer of cheesecloth if you’re not using a tea towel. The curds are quite small, and so you’ll need the dual layer in order to catch them all.
- What to do with all the whey? Whey can be used in place of water in pancakes, waffles, bread, as well as used as a stater for lacto-fermented fruits, vegetables, and beverages. It is great for the garden soil, too, if yours isn’t covered with snow. You could sprout grains with it.
- Update: I nearly forgot to include this. Don’t use ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk for this. The results won’t be quite the same, and you’ll likely need more acid (lemon juice, in this case) to get the curds to form.
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Add the milk, cream, and salt to a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the milk reaches 190º F.
Once the milk reaches the temperature, remove the pan from the heat and pour in the lemon juice. Stir to distribute the juice evenly, and then allow the pan to sit for five minutes while the curds form.
Wet cheesecloth or a thin tea towel with water, and ring out. Line the inside of a fine mesh strainer and fit over a large, heat proof bowl Ladle the liquid and curds into the cloth and strainer. Allow the ricotta to drain for at least one hour. The whey that is collected can be saved and used elsewhere. Remove the cheese from the cloth and store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.
Makes 4-5 cups ricotta.
Pictured: Warm ricotta spread on toasted baguette, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with fresh herbs.