Ricotta Cheese

4 Litres of the best milk, it makes a difference

1 1/2 tsp citric acid

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

 Cheesecloth or butter muslin

Pour your milk into a large pot. Enamelled cast iron makes a perfect material for this. Place the heat to medium. Combine the citric acid and water and stir to dissolve. Pour this mixture into the milk and stir around to thoroughly mix in. Stir in the salt. Wet the cheesecloth/butter muslin well and then wrong out. Lay over a strainer over a bowl. Set aside.

Let the milk heat slowly. Once in awhile stir the mixture, paying special attention to the bottom, do so gently as you do not want to disturb the curds as they form. The larger the curds at the end are the creamier your ricotta. You do not want to boil the milk. As the milk starts to get hot enough the mixture will curdle and the milk solids will separate. When you see this begin you know you are close to being done.

When you notice the liquid, the whey, lose its milkiness and appear clear in texture, you know you are ready. If in doubt use a thermometer. You are looking for about 190 degrees F.
 
When cheese is ready, remove from heat and set aside for 5-15 minutes. Have your strainer set up next to the pot. Using a slotted spoon or handheld strainer with lots of holes, very gently scoop into the mixture and lift up, let most of the whey drain back into the pot.
Then gently place into the cheesecloth lined strainer. Do this until you have scooped out most of the cheese curds.

Lift the corners of the cheesecloth/butter muslin and gather them together to form a sack for the cheese to drain. Hold it like that for a minute, then place it back onto the strainer and leave to drain for 15 minutes. Scoop into a container gently and refrigerate.

The ricotta will last 2 weeks in the fridge, but I'd recommend using it as soon as possible when its flavour is the most beautiful.

*citric acid is available in natural food stores, anywhere that sells cheese making supplies and even your local pharmacy.

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