Adventures in Cheesemaking

Happy Friday!  This semester’s classes are now officially over and I only have one paper left to write.  The finish line is in sight!

Last week I made a zip-trip out to Stop ‘n’ Shop, the only place in Boston that carries lactose-free half & half.  While I usually make ice cream with only lactose-free whole milk, sometimes I’ll add a tad of half & half to special batches.  And because going to Stop ‘n’ Shop can be a harrowing experience, this time I bought two cartons to save me another trip.

(I’m not even going to tell you about how I got stuck between the automatic doors and had to be saved by a Salvation Army bell-ringer.  Oops.)

Moral of the story: now I have too much half & half!  So I decided to do what any reasonable person would do– make homemade lactose-free ricotta cheese.

The process was surprisingly easy.  I followed Smitten Kitchen’s awesome instructions but used 2 cups lactose-free half & half and 2 cups lactose-free whole milk.  The only gross-looking part was separating the curds and whey.

In less than two hours, I had a creamy batch of ricotta!

We’ve been enjoying it on a baguette with a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Yum.

Buon appetito!

While I don’t think I’ll be doing any serious cheesemaking in the near future, it sure is fun to try!

Lactose-free Ricotta Cheese

  • 2 cups lactose-free whole milk
  • 2 cups lactose-free half & half
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 3 Tbs. lemon juice

Stir together milk, half & half, and salt in a 3-quart pot with a thermometer attached. Heat the mixture to 190° F, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t scorch. Remove pot from heat and add the lemon juice. Stir very gently, just once or twice. Let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile line a fine mesh strainer with a coffee filter or a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the cheese mixture from the pot into the strainer and let the curds drain for at least an hour, then check the texture. If you like your ricotta a bit firmer, let sit for another hour. (Note: the cheese will also firm up more as it cools.)

Discard the whey. If you’re not eating the ricotta promptly, refrigerate in an airtight container.

Source: Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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9 thoughts on “Adventures in Cheesemaking

  1. I found your recipe via tastespotting and it looks great! I’ve missed soft cheeses so much! What brand of half and half did you use? I’d love to try this, but I don’t know if I can get my hands on half and half.

    Thanks!

    • Thanks! I used Lactaid half & half. I think it’s only sold in New England, but you can check on their website to find grocery stores that carry it.

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    • When I lived in Boston I was able to get it at Stop ‘n’ Shop, but unfortunately Lactaid stopped making lactose-free half ‘n’ half. I’m not sure if any other brands carry it, but I’ve successfully made this recipe using only lactose-free whole milk, if that helps. Good luck!

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