Fresh Ricotta cheese is really, really good, but if you can find it, you generally pay a king's ransom for it. The good news is it's very easy to make. It's so easy, it's great fodder for that budding cook in the household (adult supervision highly recommended).
There are many ways to make ricotta, here is one of them. Start off with a gallon of whole milk and a quart of Buttermilk
and put them in a pot large enough to accommodate 5 quarts.
The heating process will be markedly shortened if you let the milk and buttermilk warm up for an hour or two out of the refrigerator before heating. You do not want this to boil, just almost boil.
While the mixture is heating, unravel and completely unfold a bolt of cheesecloth
and drape it into a preferably steel colander ending up with about 5 or 6 layers in the colander.
Stir your heating mixture occasionally
and then magic starts to happen, or the cheese curds start to separate from the liquid Whey of the two milks.
At this point you only want to stir the bottom occasionally to loosen any cheese curds that may be adhering to it. Once you reach this point, all the curds should be separated after about 10-15 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, spoon your cheese curds into your colander.
You should end up with about 4 cups of ricotta cheese
and away with the whey.
Now there's one more thing left to do. Draw up the ends of your cheese cloth and without pressing on the cheese, secure them with a rubber band and hang this cheesecloth "bag" from something to let the ricotta curds drain.
I'll bet you never thought there was a good use for those rubber bands they tie your broccoli and asparagus together with at the grocery store! Gravity should do it's work for about 5-10 minutes for a more creamy ricotta or 30 minutes or so for a drier, grainier version all the way up to Queso Fresco. Don't forget, you can always disassemble/reassemble the cheesecloth to check your consistency.
Adding in about 1/2-3/4 teaspoonfuls of salt to the finished product really brings up the flavor.
Fresh ricotta is awesome and has hundreds of uses. Your friends will love you when you serve them a scoop of this with a drizzle of honey on top and some fresh berries. Alternatively, take it all the way out (45 minutes or so of drainage) to queso fresco and use it as a topping for scrambled eggs or salads. Simple, really fresh and heaven!
It's a wrap from the kitchen of Southwest Florida Forks