I’ve been hearing and reading how easy it is to make your own ricotta and decided once and for all to put it to the test. I long to make lasagna once in a while and the thing that is stopping me most of the time is buying the cheese. Ricotta cheese is not cheap here in Malaysia. One tub would cost between RM20 – RM29. If this home experiment really works, I will never buy store ricotta again. And you know what…..it did work. No words under the sky could describe the utter joy I felt over something so trivial as successful cheese-making.
If you’ve surfed a lot of recipes on ricotta making, you’ll see that there are many versions to the milk and cream used but the basic ingredients are always milk, heavy cream and lemon juice. The lemon juice works as the acid agent to curdle the milk, thus when strained off, it leaves behind the curd ricotta.
I wanted to start off using ingredients that is more generic and more accessible. I know you can use good quality milk or even organic milk and all but I figured that if this doesn’t work out, at least I didn’t spend a lot of money buying the ingredients. So here’s the two dairy products in my cheese (pics below);
Although most recipes call for heavy cream, have you ever come across ‘heavy’ cream in Malaysian stores? Maybe gourmet stores or gourmet supermarkets will carry but again…I was weighing the accessibility and economical factors. Thickened cream probably has no similarity with heavy cream itself, but I think it’s an acceptable substitute nonetheless.
As for the ‘cheesecloth’, I could not find it anywhere and I gave up. I used this little ingenuity instead (pic below). This bag I got from Cold Storage for RM5 (+ -). It’s actually a bag used to make bouquet garni sachets for soups and stocks. The only difference with the cheesecloth is that it’s much finer, cheesecloths have larger holes. The upside is you can actually wash this bag and use it again and again. I don’t think you can do that with cheesecloths, they’re too stretchy and they snag. The best thing about this bag is it has a drawstring at the edge so I could hang it up while the whey drips down.
I was so happy that the cheesemaking worked, I actually facebooked it to everyone. 🙂 If you’re wondering why it looked more yellowish than what ricotta normally looks like, I didn’t follow any exact measurements and I think the yellow tinge comes more from the cream. If you add more milk, your cheese would be whiter.
HOMEMADE RICOTTA CHEESE
1 1/2 litres full-cream milk
250 ml thickened cream / heavy cream
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained of pulp and seeds
A pinch of sea salt to taste
1. Prepare your bag, place it on a strainer over a big bowl. Heat the milk and cream in a pot. I did not let it come to a rolling boil, I’m traumatic about burnt milk in my pot. Just let the milk and cream become hot but stir constantly. Add your sea salt.
2. When it feels hot enough, add your lemon juice and continue to stir in one direction till the milk starts to curdle, about 5 – 7 mins. Don’t expect big lumps of curdle to form, it’ll still be liquidy but you can tell when you scoop it up with your spoon, you’ll see the separation.
3. Turn off the heat, continue to stir for a minute. Pour everything carefully through the bag on the strainer.
4. When the liquid starts to drip slowly, what I did was hang the bag on a wooden spoon propped between two stools (pic below).
5. Let it drip for about 2 hours. Resist the urge to squeeze the bag or peep inside it.
6. After 2 hours, discard the whey and place the bag on a strainer again, with the cloth covering the top. Prop the strainer over a bowl. Place a plate on top of the cheese and put something heavy on top to weigh it down. Refrigerate overnight. This will get you a dryer, denser texture, if you like it softer, you can use the cheese immediately.
Note: This amount will yield approximately 400 gms of ricotta.
Enjoy your ricotta in itself or on all sorts of recipes!