I love taking on new projects in my kitchen and challenging myself to make something that I have never made before. It keeps it interesting and helps me learn about new ingredients, what things pair well together, and lets me practice my cooking techniques. While the results may not always turn out as expected, it’s always a great learning opportunity and keeps me motivated to continually improve and learn new things. This past weekend, I took on a fun (and successful!) project in my kitchen: making homemade cheese! While I thought making cheese is very labor intensive, highly technical, and time consuming, I made a batch of fresh Homemade Ricotta Cheese in under 30 minutes and with only three ingredients. Read on below to see how I made it.
Ricotta is an Italian cheese that can be made with cow, water buffalo, goat or sheep milk. Traditionally, it is made from the whey that is left over from other cheese making processes and is simply “recooked” to coagulate any remaining proteins in the whey. This is great for cheesemakers as it produces another marketable product and reduces waste. Ricotta cheese is a really soft cheese with a spreadable consistency and has a light milky/salty flavour. Depending on the type and quality of milk you use, the flavour will vary slightly depending on what animal it came from and what it ate. Generally, ricotta cheese pairs well with any pasta (think lasagna or ravioli), can be stuffed inside chicken, can be added to desserts such as cakes, or can be eaten on its own.
Since I didn’t have any whey casually laying around from a previous cheese making process, I went ahead and made it from scratch using fresh, whole milk. You need to use whole milk (not skim or 2% milk…and definitely no nut milks) to make this cheese because you need a higher fat content to get those tiny white curds to form. All you need to do is add the milk to a large pot and bring it up to a simmer. Toss in the salt and lemon juice and the cheese separates just like magic! You will see the white curds begin to float to the top and a yellow water (the whey) will be left below. It’s really a cool transformation that happens in just a few seconds. It’s really amazing to see no matter how many times you have made ricotta cheese before!
Once the curds and whey have separated, I used a slotted spoon to scoop out the curds and drained them in a colander lined with cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is a very fine mesh cloth that is used to make cheese (hence the name) and can be found in most grocery stores. The fine mesh of this fabric allows the whey to drain away from the curds so that you get a firmer/less soggy cheese product in the end. Once all the curds are scooped out, I placed the colander in the fridge over a bowl (to catch any whey) and let it drain for 2 hours. After the 2 hours have elapsed, you can scoop the cheese into a separate bowl and enjoy the cheese any way you like. The first time I made it, I almost ate the whole batch straight out of the bowl!
So if you are looking for a fun and rewarding cooking project this week, make it a point to try out this recipe for my Homemade Ricotta Cheese. Also take a look below to see what recipes it can be used in!
For the full recipe, click here!
Add your Homemade Ricotta Cheese to grilled toast and top it with a classic Bruschetta with basil and tomatoes for a quick and easy appetizer!
Use the ricotta in my Chicken Rollatini recipe, a perfect kid-friendly dinner for any night of the week! The full recipe will be available later this week!