This recipe was requested by Cookin Mama. Once you make this you may never use store bought again.
Traditional, creamery, whey cheese made from cow's or sheep's milk. It is a basin-shaped cheese, pure white and wet but not sticky. Good Ricotta should be firm, not solid and consist of a mass of fine, moist, delicate grains, neither salted nor ripened. It is white, creamy and mild and is primarily used as an ingredient in lasagna. It is primarily made with cow's milk whey which is heated to 170 degrees F. Citric acid is added to encourage destabilization and separation and the temperature is quickly raised to 185 degrees F. Proteins from the whey separate rise and coagulate; the proteins (lactalbumin) are skimmed off and put in a wicker basket to drain for two days after which the "cheese" is ready for market. There are three distinct varieties of ricotta: ricotta salata moliterna (ewe's milk whey), ricotta piemontese (cow's milk whey + 10% milk) and ricotta romana (a byproduct of Romano cheese production). Most of the ricotta cheese sold in America is ricotta romana.
Although good ricotta is easily purchased at most markets, many cooks still prefer to make their own to control the consistency and to add herbs.
To make ricotta you will need a large, heavy pot, large sieve, fine mesh cheesecloth, pot to set sieve in, and a covered storage container.
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/2 tsp. salt
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
IN heavy saucepan, bring milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
ADD 3 TBSP lemon juice.
REDUCE heat to low, simmer, stirring constantly until mixture curdles - 2 to 3 minutes.
POUR mixture into cheesecloth-lined sieve.
LET drain for an hour, until ricotta is firm.
SPOON into container, cover, chill. Keeps up to two days.