Cheese is a transformative ingredient – providing comfort and serving up a complex mix of flavours.
I love the saltiness and the acidity. It can add such an interesting dimension to any dish. We use a really nice 3% milk from a local farmer. If you’re going to make a ricotta by hand, I wouldn’t suggest stuffing it in a ravioli or a lasagna – make it the queen of the plate, so that you’re serving it as a spread or a dip. – Dyan Solomon of Montreal’s Olive & Gourmando
2 L (8 Cups) whole milk (3.25% or 3.8%)
500 ml (2 cups) buttermilk
45 ml (3 tbsp) 35% cream, plus more if needed
5 ml (1 tsp) table salt
Place the milk and buttermilk in a large stainless steel pot. The pot should be very clean.
Over medium-low heat, heat the mixture until it reaches 175 degrees F (80C) on a thermometer. Remain close by and check the temperature regularly: the milk cannot boil or even simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and let rest 45 minutes uncovered.
Line a sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth. The cheesecloth should be large enough to hang over the sides of the sieve.
The milk solids should have coagulated on the surface of the milk and formed a thick layer.
Using a skimmer or spider, carefully remove the thick layer from the top of the milk and place it in the cheesecloth-lined sieve. If there are some remaining coagulated milk solids in the pot, spoon them out gently, without scraping the bottom, since these will be overcooked. Filter the liquid that remains after spooning out the solids. Fold the cheesecloth ends together. Let rest and drain for 1 hour and 30 minutes at room temperature.
Transfer the cheese to a clean, dry bowl. Add the cream and salt, folding gently with a spatula.
Taste the cheese with a clean spoon. If the ricotta is not soft enough, add a bit more cream. The ricotta is ready to eat, but can also be refrigerated. It will firm up after several hours in the refrigerator.
Note: When making ricotta, it is essential to wash and dry everything very well to avoid contaminating the cheese. The ricotta will keep 5 – 7 days in the refrigerator. If bacteria comes into contact with the cheese, it will shorten its shelf life.