Homemade ricotta cheese-- really Nicole?? Yes, really☺. And like all other things homemade in the kitchen, once you try it and taste it, you'll understand why. There is just no comparison in taste and texture.
Speaking of texture-- by making your own ricotta, you can make the texture as smooth and creamy or as thick and curdy as you like. If I am going to use it in a recipe where it will be baked or melted, I drain the cheese on the longer side for a thicker consistency. But if I am going to use it as a dip, sandwich filler, or as a spread (as pictured below with a dollop of fig preserves), I drain it less for a smooth and creamy consistency.
Stay tuned for a delicious recipe using the thicker version!
makes about 3 cups
8 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Line a large, fine mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl; set aside.
In a large stock pot over medium heat, bring the milk, buttermilk, cream and salt to a rolling boil. Once the curds begin to separate from the whey (the liquid temperature will be between 175° F and 200° F), add the lemon juice, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes.
Gently spoon or ladle the curds into the prepared sieve. You may need to gather the cheesecloth at the top to help it drain. Allow the mixture to drain for 15-30 minutes, depending on how creamy you like your ricotta.
Transfer the ricotta to an airtight container and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from NPR, March 12, 2012 and The Food 52 Cookbook