I am married to a man from Wisconsin. So when I told him that I made fresh, homemade ricotta cheese, his eyes got a little misty and he said with great conviction, “I love you so much right now.” He followed that statement with “Isn’t making cheese hard? How are ya gonna do that?” I should have let him think that I slaved in the kitchen for days. In reality, making ricotta is so easy, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making it fresh all along. Now, originally, ricotta was a byproduct of making mozzarella. I make mine with whole milk, cream and salt. After the cheese is finished, you’ll be left with a yellowish liquid. This is the whey and it’s a great ingredient in itself. I use it in place of water in my bread recipes. It’s also great to give to your plants-watch the growing boost they’ll get!
But I digress. Back to the cheese! Here is the link to the Webisode so you can see the step by step instructions on how to make this simple and delicious cheese. (I’ll be posting it here on the site tomorrow)
Here’s what you need:
1 Gallon Whole Milk
2 cups Heavy Cream
IMPORTANT NOTE! Make sure that the milk is not ultra pasturized! The cream, too, if you can (although that’s harder to find)
2 pinches kosher salt (about 1/2 tsp-you can add more to taste later)
6 TBS white vinegar
You’ll also need:
- a large pot (6-8 quarts)
- a colander
- 2 medium-large bowls
- a slotted spoon
- a wooden spoon
- a food thermometer
- cheese cloth or heavy duty paper towels
And here’s what you do:
First, prepare your colander by lining it with two layers or cheese cloth or heavy duty paper towels. Put the colander in one of the bowls and set aside.
Pour the milk, cream and salt in the large pot and stir to combine. Heat mixture, slowly on medium to medium high heat until just before it reaches the boiling point-about 175-180 degrees, stirring often to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. This should take about 15 minutes (time may vary). Check temperature every few minutes, letting the thermometer go back to 70 degrees in between checks. When mixture comes to temperature, turn off the heat, remove the pot from the hot burner and add the vinegar. Gently stir and watch the magic happen! You will start to see the curds forming right before your eyes. Scoop those babies up with your slotted spoon and transfer to the prepared colander. Drain time depends on the consistency you want for your ricotta. For a creamier cheese, let the curds drain only a minute or two. For a thicker, drier cheese, let it drain 5 minutes or longer. When cheese has drained to your liking, gently turn out into the second bowl. Fluff with a fork or spoon. Let cool for 15-20 minutes then transfer to a lidded, airtight container and store in the fridge.
See how easy that was? You can use your fresh ricotta in all sorts of great recipes! Lasagna, stuffed shells, cannoli, pancakes…the list is endless! I love doing these little small bite appetizers above-take a dollop and put it on a spoon. Top with fresh cracked pepper, salt (kosher, smoked, black, truffle-all really yummy), fresh herbs and good olive oil. Super easy, delish and pretty to boot!
Hope you give this recipe a try-you’ll thank me, I promise!
Till next time…Have fun and be fearless!