A moist cheese with a slightly grainy texture, ricotta is a staple of Italian cuisine. Used in everything from pasta dishes to desserts, ricotta typically comes from the whey that's left over after mozzarella and provolone are made. Homemade ricotta follows a slightly different procedure. You heat milk and add an acid, like vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice, which causes curds to form. When you use lime juice to make ricotta, your cheese will have a light lime flavor that makes it perfect for desserts like ricotta mousse or cheesecake.
Things You'll Need
- Lime juice
- Sieve or colander
- Large mixing bowl
- Bowl or plastic storage container
Pour your milk into a stainless-steel pot and place it on your stove. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches between 180 or 190 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have a food thermometer, wait until the milk simmers gently, with foam appearing on the sides of your pot.
Remove the milk from the heat and immediately add the lime juice. Use about 1/4 cup of juice per gallon of milk. Stir the juice and milk mixture until the curds begin to form. Once the curds start to form, stop stirring the mixture.
Let the mixture sit undisturbed in the pot for about 30 minutes. The curds should continue to form during this time.
Dampen your cheesecloth with water and line the colander or sieve with it. Use a cheesecloth large enough to completely cover the sieve, with about 1 inch to spare around the entire circumference of the sieve. Fit your sieve on the rim of a large mixing bowl.
Pour your curds into the sieve gently, so you don't disturb the curds.
Let the ricotta drain for about 30 minutes. Check the ricotta periodically and discard the liquid that drains into the bowl. If too much liquid accumulates, the ricotta won't be able to drain properly. If you like a firmer ricotta, you can let it drain for a longer amount of time.
Scoop the curds from the cheesecloth and put them in a clean covered bowl or plastic container. Your ricotta will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Tips & Warnings
- Because this ricotta will have a slight lime flavor, it's most suitable for desserts.
- You don't need to add any salt to the ricotta if you're using it for a dessert recipe.
- The type of milk you choose will affect the texture of your ricotta. Two-percent milk produces a ricotta that is less creamy than ricotta made with whole milk. For an extra-creamy ricotta, use a mixture of cream and whole milk.
- Not all limes contain the same amount of acid. If curds don't begin to form immediately after you add the lime juice to the milk, add more lime juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until curds begin to form.
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