Make your own ricotta cheese
Ricotta is Italian for “to cook again,” and traditionally it’s made by heating the whey byproduct of another cheese, like mozzarella. But you can also make it at home with readily available ingredients and just a few simple steps.
- 3 cups whole milk (the fresher the better, as it will make the curds cling more tightly. Local options like Crystal Ball Farms and Castle Rock Creamery are good choices)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ tsp. coarse sea salt
- 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart saucepan and heat under a
medium-high flame. If you have a candy thermometer, heat the milk to
180.° If not, heat until just simmering. Remove from heat and add the
lemon juice. Stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let sit undisturbed
for 5 minutes.
- Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let strain for at least an hour, two is better and will give you something the texture of cream cheese. Discard the whey (the watery stuff that drained out). Eat the ricotta right away or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. The cheese will last for a week or two, depending on how fresh the milk is you used.
- Ricotta is a perfect spring cheese because it’s so delicate and versatile. Fold it into vegetable pastas, tuck it into crepes with berries or make your own version of Nightingale’s bruschetta with nuts, seeds and mint.