I started getting interested in making cheese last summer, but I was totally intimidated by the process. I assumed it required ingredients and equipment I don’t have, plus time and new skills. Then I discovered ricotta. The ingredients are things I normally buy. The only equipment needed is a pot, spoon, colander and cheesecloth (which is available at any large grocery store). It’s as quick and easy as it gets.
If that’s not convincing enough, I should also mention that the final result is spectacular. It barely resembles store bought ricotta. I want to eat it with everything (which is a totally new emotion for me…I was never a huge fan of ricotta before). I’m spreading it on crackers and toast, topping it with honey and jam, putting it in homemade calzones. I’ve even started to dream of cannolis (which I swear I’ve never craved before in my life). Fresh ricotta is so, so good.
Ricotta takes 10 minutes of prep time + 1 hour of sitting. This recipe makes just shy of two cups.
- 1/2 gallon of whole milk
- 1 pint of heavy cream
- 1 tsp salt (I like sea salt)
- 1 lemon (or approx 2 T of lemon juice) or 2T of white vinegar
Note: if you use lemon as your acid, it imparts a light lemon taste on the ricotta (which I love in everything but pizza); if you use vinegar, it imparts a slightly tart, vinegar taste. I think the most neutral tasting acid you can use is citric acid, but I didn’t want to go to a specialty cheese shop to hunt that down. I’m OK with lemon or vinegar.
Pour your milk, cream and salt into a pot. Choose one of your bigger pots (to prevent the milk from boiling over), ideally with a heavy bottom (to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom).
Slowly bring the contents of the pot to a rolling boil.
As the milk is heating up, line your colander with 2 layers of cheese cloth and squeeze your lemon juice.
Once the milk reaches boiling, add the lemon juice to the pot.
Let the milk curdle and cook for an additional 1 – 2 minutes.
Pour into colander, straining the curdled milk from the whey.
Let the cheese sit for 1 hour and drain.
For a quick dinner recipe with ricotta, see this post. Ricotta all the time!