I’m here to prove to you that making your own cheese is not as ludicrous as it sounds. There are several reasons for taking the plunge and making your own ricotta. Firstly, it takes minutes. Secondly, it is much tastier than anything you can buy in the shops.
Who is this crazy girl, you’re thinking. First she tells us to make our own granola, now she’s telling us to make our own cheese. Does she think we don’t have lives to get on with?
Supermarket ricotta is fine for cooking with, but is too watery and milky to really be savoured on its own; it’s a far cry from the beautiful fresh ricotta you can buy in Italy, which is fresh, tangy, almost crumbly. There’s something ridiculously satisfying about whipping up a batch of homemade cheese in the time it would take you to make some toast, using ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and if not, are easily purchased from any corner shop.
This will give you a delicious bowl of homemade ricotta: thick, creamy and wonderfully rich. It’s perfect for eating, unadulterated, on some good bread with a little olive oil, or for stirring into hot pasta, or topping with fresh fruit for a breakfast treat. You can add salt if you like, for a more savoury cheese, or keep it mild and milky for a morning recipe. I like to eat mine with fresh strawberries on toast, though it’s also delicious dolloped in thick clouds over a bowl of pasta with fresh pesto.
The method could hardly be simpler. You bring milk to the boil, add some yoghurt (full-fat is more luxurious, but low-fat also works) and a squeeze of lemon, and the mixture magically separates, Little Miss Muffet-style, into curds and whey. You strain it through a sieve lined with muslin, which catches the creamy curds. Don’t discard the whey, though it makes fabulous bread or scones, useful in any recipe that would call for buttermilk. My favourite weekend treat is homemade ricotta served on soda bread made with the whey from the cheese, not only tasty but incredibly economical too!