I feel quite accomplished right now.
There was something slightly intimidating about the thought of making my own ricotta cheese. And there were certainly many moments I stared into the pot of milk on the stove wondering what on earth I had done wrong, and where were those curds?? Alas, all I needed was a wee bit of patience (and a wee bit more lemon juice).
Adapted from Epicurious
8 cups of whole milk
2 cups buttermilk (or in my case 2 cups of milk & the juice of a lemon)
salt to taste
Begin by preparing a sieve over your sink lined with a few layers of cheesecloth (or in my case paper coffee filters).
Pour milk and buttermilk into a large heavy bottomed pot over high heat. Stir the milk as it heats up making sure to not let it scorch on the bottom of the pot. Once it begins to steam stop stirring. When the milk reaches 180 degrees F turn off heat. The curds should separate from the whey (the cloudy liquid)*. Ladle the curds into the sieve and let drain.**
*My curds just didn't seem to be appearing and I was worried I hadn't let my "buttermilk" curdle enough. Or perhaps there wasn't enough lemon juice? Either way I ended up adding the juice of a few more lemons to my hot milk and stirred gently until the curds separated from the whey.
Next time I will add more lemon juice to my "buttermilk" and let it sit and curdle for more time.
**I was nervous about ladling the curds out of the pot...and instead dumped the whole pot into the sieve, and then slowly ladled the whey out.
curds and whey together
curds, whey removed
For more helpful step-by step photos on making ricotta check out this post by Eggs on Sunday.