Ricotta is one of the most popular yet simplest cheeses in the world, and also one of the most abused. All too often, commercially produced ricotta is packed with stabilisers and, despite them, breaks into a lumpy, watery paste. It’s a far cry from the luscious fresh ricotta of Italy, so luxe and creamy it can be eaten just as it is, for dessert, with a drizzle of honey.
Although true ricotta is made from the whey left over from cheese making—ricotta literally means “re-cooked”, just as panna cotta is “cooked cream” and terra cotta is “cooked earth”—this simple curds ’n’ whey version is every bit as good.
Full-cream milk is heated, then an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice is added to denature the proteins in the milk, separating it into curds and whey. The mixture is strained through cheesecloth to retain the prized soft white curd; the whey can be kept and used in baking or added to buttermilk.
The whole process takes only minutes. There is no danger of boiling the milk over because the Thermomix controls the temperature for you. If you’ve been put off ricotta because you haven’t liked what you’ve bought in a tub, do give this a whirl.
- Weigh the milk and cream into the Thermomix bowl. Heat 10 minutes/90 degrees/speed 3, the mixture will reach 90 degrees literally in the last minute of the process. If it doesn’t, heat it for a minute further but don’t let it boil because the higher temperature makes the ricotta rubbery.
- Switch the machine off and release the lid. Add the vinegar and salt, then give the Thermomix bowl a swirl to combine everything.
- Replace the bowl and allow the mix to stand for 15 minutes with the lid resting on top. The milk will separate very clearly into curds and whey.
- Line the TM basket or a sieve with clean, dampened muslin cloth or similar, and set over a bowl. Carefully and slowly ladle the curds through the muslin, allowing the whey to drain away; it can be kept and added to buttermilk for later use.
- Allow the ricotta to drain for 20 minutes or so squeezing gently now and then to remove excess liquid.
- Refrigerate and eat within 2 days.