Save Money in this Sunday's paper

The Kitchn

comments

You can make your own ricotta

By Emma Christensen
Thekitchen.com
GDPPFFTD.5
- EMMA CHRISTENSEN
Homemade ricotta cheese tastes better than homemade.

More Information

  • Homemade Ricotta

    1/2 gallon whole or 2 percent milk, not UHT pasteurized

    1/3 cup lemon juice (from 1 1/2 to 2 lemons), 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar, or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid

    1 teaspoon salt (optional)

    POUR milk into a 4-quart pot and place over medium heat. Let it warm gradually to 200 degrees, monitoring the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. The milk will get foamy and start to steam; remove from heat if it starts to boil.

    REMOVE from heat. Pour in the lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid and the salt. Stir gently to combine. Let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. After this time, the milk should have separated into clumps of milky white curds and thin, watery, yellow-colored whey – dip a slotted spoon into the mix to check. If you still see a lot of unseparated milk, add another tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and wait a few more minutes.

    SET a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheese cloth. Scoop the big curds out of the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the strainer. Pour the remaining curds and the whey through the strainer. (Removing the big curds first helps keep them from splashing and making a mess as you pour.)

    DRAIN the ricotta for 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how wet or dry you want it. If the ricotta becomes too dry, stir some of the whey back in. Use right away or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.

    NOTES: While whole milk is best, 2 percent milk can also be used. Avoid skim and nonfat milks; they don’t separate as easily into curds and whey. If you’d like to make a fresh farmer’s cheese (ricotta salata), wrap the ricotta in cheese cloth and press it beneath a weighted plate in the refrigerator overnight. Use the leftover whey in place of water in any baking recipe, whizz it into smoothies or drink it over ice.

    Yield: 2 cups.



Milk, lemon juice and about a half-hour of your time – that’s all you need to make fresh, creamy homemade ricotta.

And trust me, once you make your own ricotta, it’s hard to go back to the stuff from the tub.

When I say this only takes a half hour, I should clarify that most of that time is actually hands off. You bring the milk almost to a simmer, add lemon juice or vinegar, then let it sit while you work on the rest of dinner. It takes 10 minutes or to strain the curds, and then the ricotta is ready for lasagne, pizza or whatever devious and delicious plans you have in store.

This process works best if you’re using whole milk, though I’ve had success with 2 percent. Avoid skim or nonfat milk, as there just isn’t enough milk fat left in the milk to separate into curds and whey. Also avoid using ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, as this process changes the protein structure of the milk and prevents it from separating.

Unfortunately, many organic milks are UHT pasteurized. If organic ricotta is your aim, check the carton before buying.

Homemade ricotta has better texture and flavor than anything I’ve ever bought at the grocery store. I suspect this because it’s freshly made. I like that I can control just how wet or dry the ricotta is simply by how long I let it drain – I like wetter, looser ricotta for things like pizzas and drier, firmer ricotta for cannoli and other desserts. If you wrap the drained ricotta in cheese cloth and press it beneath a weighted plate in the refrigerator overnight, you can also make a simple ricotta salata, paneer, queso fresco or other fresh farmer’s cheese.

I also like that I can make exactly the amount of ricotta that I need. A half-gallon of milk makes about 2 cups of ricotta, depending on how long I let it drain, and the recipe can be scaled up or down to fit my recipe. Of course, if and when I do have leftover ricotta, there are plenty of ways to use up those last few dabs.

Making ricotta also gives you a bonus: the leftover whey. This whey is fantastic in baked goods. Try using it instead of water in your next batch of bread or pizza dough. You can also use a few spoonfuls of whey to jump-start the lacto-fermentation process when making things like sauerkraut and kvass.

I should add that this is a simplified method intended for making a quick batch of ricotta at home. Traditionally, ricotta is made by heating the whey left from other cheese-making projects (those made by using starter cultures and rennet). If you have whey of this type, then by all means, try making traditional ricotta.

Emma Christensen is recipe editor for TheKitchn.com, a home-cooking website.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases