Homemade Ricotta is not only possible to make, it is relatively easy. It is very time consuming and requires making sure all equipment is sterile and the ingredients are fresh.
Ricotta is usually made from whey (remember Little Miss Moffet and curds and whey?) which is the slightly cloudy liquid that drains from the cheesemaking process.
Ricotta cheese, however, can be made without whey and can instead be made with milk, either from cow, buffalo or goat. My father and I took some time on a rainy/snowy afternoon and made two batches of Ricotta, one from whole milk and one from whey.
Now, whey, the by product of cheese making is very low in protein, so it requires a LOT of whey to make a little bit of cheese. Making ricotta with milk or even using milk to extend whey is a very common way to get more cheese from a batch.
My father had a bunch of cheese making tools and even made a mold in preparation.
My father took out an antique cheese press as well. We didn't use this, but it is quite interesting!
He also had some beautiful wooden scoops used for stirring and scooping the liquids.
And then I went to town making cannoli...
And savory Onion, Pepper and Zucchini topped Ricotta Crostini.
Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta
1 gallon whole milk (16 cups)
2 cups heavy cream
3 tsp salt
12 T freshly squeezed lemon juice, drained of seeds
Clean and sterilize the pot, molds and measuring cup. Pour the milk, cream and salt into a large saucepan. Heat over low heat until the mixture reaches 190 degrees F. Stir occasionally and if you are at all concerned about the milk scorching, use a double boiler.
While the milk is heating, line one or two cheese molds or colanders with cheesecloth. (Clean muslin will work even better than cheesecloth.)
Check the temperature and when it reaches 190, slide the pot off the the hot burner and add the lemon juice. Stir just until combined and let sit unbothered for 5 minutes. You will notice the mixture curdling immediately. (Time it, but leave it no longer than 10 minutes.)
Slowly pour the mixture through the cheesecloth lined mold. It will take a few moments for the whey to drain enough to empty the entire pot.
Let sit for an hour.
Tie off the cheesecloth or use a rubberband to secure the cheesecloth around the cheese.
After it is cool, remove the cheesecloth and place it in a covered container. Keep in the fridge.
Use as desired.
The ricotta can be thinned with milk or cream if needed to use in recipes.