Fresh lemon ricotta, the easy way

The first time I made fresh ricotta cheese it seemed to be a little complicated, with a lot of temperature taking and delicate timing.  That’s probably why I haven’t done it since.  Lately I’ve been realizing how important it is to streamline the instructions in a recipe.  Too many words or steps and it can seem overwhelming instead of approachable.

My oldest daughter, who is off cooking in her first apartment, mentioned that she made paneer (an Indian cheese) and her method was much simpler than I remembered the whole process being.  So I’m inspired to re-enter the world of cheesemaking.
I’m making lemon ricotta, partly because, if given half a chance, I will try to wedge lemon (no pun intended) into everything.
Since I’m using a half-gallon glass bottle of milk from a local dairy, this cheese will be local cheese.  How exciting.  I’m a local cheesemaker. You can be one too.

Here’s the easy no stress method.  Don’t let the fancy complicated tutorials put you off.  I think those people secretly want to keep cheesemaking all to themselves.

Lemon Ricotta
You’ll need:
a half gallon of whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon (if you want lemon ricotta)
1 cheesecloth for straining
a colander
a deep bowl

Open out your cheesecloth and line the colander with a double layer of the cloth, covering all sides of the colander.  Set that over a deep bowl for draining.
Pour your milk into a heavy bottomed pot and set on medium low heat.  Grate the lemon zest right into the milk.  Let it heat slowly, until it’s just about to boil.
Add in your 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and almost immediately you will see the curds form.

Keeping it on the heat, let the curds fully form.  Don’t stir it much, just check to see if the curds have fully separated from the whey.  The liquid should be clearish.  This won’t take long, just a minute or so.
Take it off the heat and using a slotted spoon or skimmer, skim the curds out and into your cheesecloth lined strainer.

See all the little lemon bits?  Let it sit there for about 10 minutes or so while you clean up the kitchen.  Then gather the ends of the cheesecloth and tie it to your sink handle so the cheese can drain further.

Let this hang for another ten minutes or so, and then scoop out your fresh local ricotta into a storage container.  Use it immediately, or refrigerate for up to a couple of days.

I was going to use this in my pasta for dinner, but I decided I want to savor my new local cheese for a little longer.  Into the fridge and I’ll figure out what I want to do with it tomorrow.
I’m guessing you could put any herbs or spices into this kind of cheese, depending on what you plan to use it for.
Happy cheese making!

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