Today is national cheesemaker’s day! To celebrate, today’s post will teach you how to make some of the best ricotta you will ever eat. I’ve never really enjoyed the ricotta I would buy at the grocery store. Its texture was similar to what I imagine wet sand would feel like in my mouth, and always seemed to be lacking the richness and flavor I was looking for.  Luckily, when I discovered how easy ricotta was to make, I never looked back! Homemade ricotta is a totally different beast from the store-bought stuff. It has a smooth, creamy, and rich texture and flavor that taste great anyway you use it. I use Deb Perelman’s recipe from her blog,

Makes about 1 generous cup of ricotta 

3 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom.  Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. 

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey, or, if you’re one of those crafty people who use it for other things, of course, save it. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. 

This will keep in the fridge for up to a week. 

I like to eat Deb’s ricotta on a thick piece of toast topped with everything from sliced tomatoes with olive oil and salt, to roasted strawberries with a drizzle of balsamic.  I have also used the cheese in lasagna or swiped under a big pile of roasted veggies. You’ll find, there really isn’t a wrong way to eat this cheese.