If you have a thermometer, attach it to the side of a medium pot, making sure the tip of the thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot. Add the milk, buttermilk, cream, and salt. Place over medium-low heat and slowly bring to a simmer, gently stirring two or three times. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
As the mixture heats, it will become grainy, and then the liquid will separate and small curds will begin to form (this will happen between 195° and 205°F/90° and 96°C). When you see cottage cheese-looking curds surrounded by cloudy beige/pale yellow whey, remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon or a regular, large spoon, gently ladle all the curds into the prepared sieve.
Let drain for 3 to 5 minutes for a milky-rich cheese, 20 minutes for a thicker, but still moist and spreadable consistency, or up to 2 hours for a dryer, crumbly texture (if you lined the sieve with paper towels, the draining process will take longer).
Transfer the drained ricotta cheese to an airtight container or a glass jar. Remove the cheesecloth or paper towels from the sieve (you can rinse the cheesecloth and use it again to make your next ricotta batch), then slowly pour the remaining liquid through the sieve. Transfer solids (if any) to the ricotta container, then store the whey in a separate container.
Use the ricotta right away (warm, freshly made ricotta cheese is dreamy!) or refrigerate the ricotta until needed.
Homemade ricotta cheese will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze ricotta for up to 6 months. Make sure to save the whey: you can use it in smoothies, soups, or in any recipe that requires milk. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
How to make 24-hour buttermilk: Fill a 1-quart jar (1 L) with hot water to warm it, then pour out the water. Combine 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk and 2 tbsp (30 ml) cultured buttermilk or sour cream in the jar and stir to combine. Cover the jar with a lid and place in a warm spot in your kitchen. Label the jar with the date and time. When the buttermilk is ready, it will have thickened slightly and have a tangy taste. This will take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Refrigerate and use the buttermilk as needed.How to serve Homemade Ricotta Cheese as a quick appetizer: Lemony Whipped RicottaPlace 1/2 cup (125 ml) ricotta in the bowl of a small food processor along with 1 tbsp (15 ml) heavy cream and 1 tbsp (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil. Process until the mixture is super smooth. Alternatively, you can also beat the ricotta with the cream and olive oil using a whisk or a hand mixer. The whipped ricotta will retain a coarser texture but still be a delightful treat. Refrigerate for 1 hour. To serve, spread over a plate, then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and finely grated lemon zest. Enjoy with toasted baguette slices.
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