I hold cheese-makers in such high regard. I see them as modern day alchemists and true artisans.
When I first made ricotta at home I was giddy with excitement. “What a wonderful achievement,” I thought. Cheese making was such a mystery to me and this was my first step towards understanding it.
Ricotta literally means ‘reheated’. It was traditionally made of whey left from the cheese-making process. Now most ricotta is made from whole milk, as this will give a higher yield. This also gives a creamier texture.
It is a delicious carrier of flavour and works well in desserts or as a starter. If you make some, try it out in this recipe for grilled apricots.
Waste not: If your milk needs using up or you happen to be a cheese-maker, then ricotta is a good use for it. Once the ricotta is made it can be kept for a further 3-4 days. Although it is best eaten immediately, and most likely will be.
Ingredients - makes about 4.5 cups of ricotta 5 liters whole milk 100ml cream 1 tsp rennet Salt
You will need a sheet of muslin (a mesh dish cloth also works) and ideally a thermometer.
Heat the milk and cream over a medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add a good pinch of salt. Bring the temperature up to 90˚C or just before boiling. Then remove from the heat.
Allow to cool to 50˚C, or around the temperature of a hot bath. Whilst the milk is cooling, line a colander with your muslin.
Mix 1 tsp of rennet with a little water and let it dissolve. Stir into the milk. Allow the milk to thicken for 5-10 minutes.
Stir vigorously to break up the curds. Now stir the liquid with a slotted spoon or sieve, as you do this the curds will separate from the whey.
Lift the curds gently into the muslin. Allow to drain for 1 hour. Then tie up the muslin and hang up for 3 hours.
Your ricotta is now ready to eat!