I want you to make your own ricotta. It is easy. I promise. It is not something just the Martha Stewarts of the world make. Everyone can (and should!) make their own ricotta.
We make this at least once a month. The taste and texture of homemade ricotta doesn’t even begin to compare to what you can find in stores. Make this once and you will never ever buy it again. Also it is infinitely cheaper to make your own.
A few years ago Nathan and I took a cheese making class at Cooks, Pots, and Tabletops. It was a riot. We pulled mozzarella, learned to make marscapone, and were introduced to the simplicity of homemade ricotta. We haven’t attempted the marscapone or mozzarella since but I can’t count the number of times we have made ricotta. We will be making mozzarella sometime soon though and I promise to share that adventure.
Here is the recipe followed by a picture by picture tutorial.
1 gallon whole milk
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp salt (to taste really but 1 tsp is a good place to start)
It is three easy ingredients. Salt, milk, and white vinegar. Use whole milk. The flavor comes from the cream. It is worth the calories. Make sure the milk is just pasteurized not ultra-pasteurized. It will say on the box which it is.
Rinse a large non-reactive pan with cold water (will help prevent the milk from scalding), add milk and salt. Stir. Place over medium heat.
Place a thermometer in the milk. We rig up a system with some foil. Make sure it doesn’t touch the bottoms or sides. A probe thermometer works great although a candy thermometer will do as well. Heat to 180 degrees F stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat add the vinegar and stir for one minute and one minute only using a metal spoon (not wood). Use an up and down motion rather than stirring around and be gentle. We are encouraging the curds to form so we don’t want to break them up.
Once done stirring cover with a clean dry towel and allow to sit undisturbed for a few hours. We have made it in the morning before heading to work then strained it when we got home or even made it before bed and strained it in the morning.
After it has sat for however long (at least two hours) get a straining basket or line a colander with a damp cheesecloth (a thin kitchen towel will work great, a couple of layers of paper towels will work in a pinch). With slotted spoon gently ladle the curds out either in to the colander or basket. Let it drain freely for a couple of hours or so depending on how creamy you want your cheese to be.
Once it is done draining unmold and place in a sealed container for up to 7 days. Refrigerate. It does not freeze well so use right away. Makes roughly 4 cups.
That’s it! Simple right?
Note- If making ricotta to use in a desert or a sweet application reduce or omit salt. You can replace 1 pint of the milk with 1 pint of whipping cream for a more decadent, creamier cheese. The longer it sits the more separated the curds will become. Let it sit 3-4 hours for a creamier cheese, 6 or more for more cottage cheesy like texture.
A recipe for what to do with all this cheese will follow next week!