What do guacamole, jelly beans, sourdough bread, and cheese have in common? Basically nothing except I am literally rendered helpless when those foods are placed in front of me. Self-control goes out the window and I become a face-shoveling fiend. They are my kryptonite. But do you know what makes it even worse? When the food is homemade. And there is nothing better than homemade cheese.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a mad scientist with a dozen different cultures, probes, presses, and a ripening cave to make delicious cheese. Ricotta is one of the easiest types of cheese to make AND it tastes wayyyy better than that dry, unflavored stuff you buy in the grocery store. Homemade ricotta is velvety, slightly sweet, slightly salty, takes about 30 minutes to make, and pairs with almost any food imaginable. Whip up ricotta pancakes for breakfast, throw it into a salad for lunch, make a ricotta-based gnocchi for dinner, or mix in seasonal fruit and top your favorite treat with it for dessert like I did with my Rustic Pear and Pecan Galette with Champagne Caramel. For my pear galette, I added a little honey, lemon zest, and fresh pomegranate seeds for a tangy, sweet contrast to the caramel and pears.
Homemade (Pomegranate) Ricotta Cheese
Yields about 2 cups
For plain ricotta:
- ½ gallon whole milk
- juice from 2 lemons, and zest from 1 of those lemons
- 1 tsp. salt
Place milk in a large saucepan and turn heat to medium-low. Slowly warm the milk to 200°F. The milk will start to get a little foamy as it reaches the correct temperature. Don’t let it boil. Remove the milk from heat, pour in the lemon juice and the salt, and stir gently. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes.
During this 10 minutes, the milk will start to separate into clumps of curds and watery, yellow whey. Set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheese cloth. Pour the curds into the strainer and drain for 10 minutes. (If you want a firmer ricotta, let it drain for 20-30 minutes.) Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For pomegranate ricotta, mix in the following with the plain ricotta:
- zest from the 1 lemon mentioned above
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds, mashing a few as you stir to release juice
- 1 tbsp. honey