So, I’m kind of into making my own everything. Obviously it’s too time consuming to make everything all the time, but I try to work making my own ingredients in every once in a while! My most recent new conquest was ricotta cheese. Which, my friends, is probably the easiest type of cheese to make. You need three ingredients. That’s right. Three!
Ricotta appealed to me because of my love for spinach ricotta pie. I made one immediately after making my ricotta. And it was DELICIOUS. Also, if you’ve ever looked at a ricotta container’s ingredients it has all this random stuff in it! What is it?! First off, preservatives. Secondly, when ricotta is mass-produced they don’t take the time to drain it so they have to add stuff to make it keep together. Ew.
You’ll never look back, guys.
First, get a gallon of milk. Any milk. I did my first batch with whole milk and my second with reduced fat and they both turned out the same. Now, you pour your gallon of milk into whatever pot is big enough to contain it. You don’t need a lot of extra space, really. Then, stir 1 tsp of kosher salt into the milk and heat up the mixture. The recipes i looked at all said to heat it to 190°…so I started with that.
Once it’s to the proper heat you pour in the 1/4 cup lemon juice (or whatever else you want to use to acidify the mixture..vinegar can be used too!). Stir once and only once. Then, remove the heat and let it sit there and let the curds and whey separate!
Now, when I did this, I was impatient. And confused. I expected a good amount of ricotta to form. Where was it? Once it sat for the allotted 30 minutes I poked around and was like what the crap, where is it? So, I heated it to a simmer. I don’t think that really helped. But, it didn’t hurt it either so, if you want to make sureeee you got all that ricotta outta there, go ahead and simmer it a bit. Some recipes even say to do that, I was just trying to do it the purist way.
Once you’re satisfied that you got all the curds and whey to separate, it’s straining time! I tried two different methods. With my first batch i poured it right into a fine-mesh strainer. After i let it drain for 30 minutes I had my ricotta! Now, during that draining I did move the cheese around since it was thick and was clogging up the strainer. In the end, everything worked out!
With my second batch I lined the same strainer with cheesecloth and did the same draining procedure as before. I’m not sure if this helped…it seemed like a lot of cheese got clumped up and left on the cloth. More so than on the strainer… so, it’s up to you how you want to strain your ricotta! I suggest that if you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, use cheese cloth with your existing strainer. But, if you do have a fine mesh strainer, use that!
After all the draining I had my fresh ricotta! It was all it was talked up to be! So fresh, so much more flavor than store-bought. So good. I highly recommend you make yourself some next time you’re in the mood for something ricotta-i! PS. It’s cheaper than buying the same amount of ricotta, for sure!
1 Gallon Milk
1 tsp salt, kosher or canning
1/4 lemon juice or other acid (or 1 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup water)
Mix milk and salt in a stock pot. Heat to 190°, stirring frequently to avoid scorching the milk. Once the mixture reaches 190°, add the lemon juice (or alternative) and stir ONCE. Remove from heat and let the mixture sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the curds and whey to separate. Afterwards, drain into a fine mesh strainer or a regular one lined with cheese cloth and allow to drain for 30 minutes.
Is there anything that you prefer to make for yourself instead of buying it from the store? Why? Is there anything that you wish you knew how to make from scratch?