It's a conspiracy. How is it possible I didn't know how completely easy it is to make cheese at home?
I'm not a cheese snob, nor do I obsess about ricotta, but watching a pot of milk separate into curds and whey on my stovetop was nothing short than miraculous. The only ricotta option in my own supermarket are those plastic tubs of white slop with no flavor and odd grainy texture. Even though I never had "real" ricotta cheese before, my inner turophile ("turophile - noun - a connoisseur of cheese; a cheese fancier") somehow knew there were better options out there. Somewhere. Out there. Beneath the pale moonlight. Any Fivel fans? Never mind.
But making my own cheese was a revelation, not only in the fact that I now had a path to decent ricotta, but the pure empowerment of the act in itself. If I can make cheese, I can probably tackle the perfect omelet. If I can make cheese, then maybe I can learn to sew. If I can make cheese, maybe I can actually get my kid potty-trained. Or finally make my way through Catch-22. Or retire early, move to San Sebastian and open up a sangria shack.
A world of possibilities suddenly opened up. All from a humble pot of curds and whey.
Want to experience it for yourself? Get ready for magic.
From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends. For ideas on what to do with your awesome ricotta miracle, click here.
1 gallon high-quality whole milk
2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon - I used a little extra)
Line a large colander with cheesecloth and place it in the sink. Wet the cheesecloth to hold it firmly in place.
In a large heavy pot, bring the milk and salt to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in the lemon juice and continue to simmer gently for 1 to 2 mins, or until curds begin to form and float to the top. They will first look like spatters of white, then gather into soft, cloudlike clumps. When you see the liquid begin to clear of cloudiness and the curds are firming up but not hard, scoop them out with a slotted spoon or sieve.
Let the curds drain in the colander. If very soft, press gently to extract a little moisture, but take care not to dry out the cheese. Transfer to a large bowl, cover, and chill for 1-2 hours. Keeps refrigerated, covered, up to 3 days.