Buying ricotta cheese at the supermarket annoys me! I have a hard time spending money on something that is flavorless and boring. To ease this tension I experience, I have started making my own ricotta. I find the process calming and it makes me happy to be standing in my own kitchen watching milk slowly heat up. After I made my first batch of ricotta, I felt like a culinary superwoman! It was fun to tell people, “I just made cheese!” But let’s face it…ricotta IS boring and relatively flavorless. The great thing about homemade ricotta is the beautiful velvety texture that store bought ricotta just doesn’t have. All you have to do is add salt, pepper, garlic, chives, anything you want to it and suddenly the flavors are elevated to a whole new level. Let’s go…
- ½ gallon whole milk
- 1/3 cup lemon juice or distilled white vinegar (I do the juice of 1 lemon and the remainder vinegar)
- Garlic, chives or any other herb you want to add
- Olive oil
To make the ricotta:
- Pour the milk into a large pot. Set over medium heat and slowly bring up to 210° (just below boiling). Stir occasionally.
- The milk will start to foam and steam. Remove from heat when it reaches 210 °, just before it starts to boil.
- Add the 1/3 cup of lemon juice and/or vinegar. I like mine with a little zing and add closer to ½ cup of the acid.
- Once you add the acid, give a quick and gentle stir and then let it sit undisturbed off the heat for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, check to see if the curds have separated from the whey. If they haven’t separated, add another Tablespoon of lemon juice and let sit for 10 more minutes.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth and drain the ricotta. Reserve about 1 cup of the whey, you might want to add some back to the cheese if it becomes too dry. Place the colander in a bowl and put in the fridge to drain for an hour.
*** TIP: Do not let the whey drain down the sink, SAVE IT! I have been playing with some recipes using the leftover whey and it is amazing to use in place of the water in pizza dough. Check out my pizza dough recipes here and try it for yourself….
Once the ricotta had drained, you can mix in whatever you want. It will need some salt, so put in a teaspoon or so. If the ricotta seems too dry, you can mix some of the reserved whey back in. I like to grate a clove or two of garlic and crack some black pepper in. I also add some olive oil. Chives are awesome in it too.
This recipe will make about 1½-2 cups of ricotta. It’s strange, every time I make it, the amount turns out slightly different. I’m not sure why…if you can tell me, I’d love to know.
You can use this ricotta in scrambled eggs or omelets, ravioli, and my favorite way is in Tomato Basil Risotto and then in Lasagna Rolls the next day. Also this ricotta is good just dolloped on top of a salad. But seriously, do NOT forget to save the whey and add it to PIZZA DOUGH!
I hope you have fun being your own cheese maker…it’s quite fulfilling!