Easy Cheese: Making Ricotta

A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon a link to this article in the Washington Post food section about making ricotta. It reminded me of how much I loved the fresh ricotta I would get when living in Italy. My favorite sandwich was grilled eggplant, basil and ricotta on a crusty bread. I’d bring home ricotta and eat it with lemon curd for dessert…. there’s a reason I gained weight in grad school! After experiencing that fresh ricotta, Polly-O just won’t do. So when I saw how easy it is to make on your own, I knew I had to try it.

Ricotta

Use fresh, good quality milk, but make sure it isn’t ultra-pasteurized. You’ll have a difficult time getting it to curdle. I didn’t have cheese cloth on hand, and, my closest grocery store is pretty lacking, so I improvised, cutting up clean, rinsed pantyhose to line my colander for draining. Also, technically this isn’t the same as the ricotta you buy from the store, as it’s not made from the leftover mozzarella whey. But, it can be used in any recipe that calls for ricotta, and it tastes delicious! Use it for cheesecake, cannoli, ravioli, lasagna– or just spread on bread drizzled with a little olive oil. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream (optional– for added richness)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar (I like the light hint of lemon that comes from the lemon).

Line a sieve or a colander with cheesecloth (or pantyhose) and place over a large bowl.

In a large pot, over medium heat, bring milk, heavy cream and salt to a rolling boil. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. When mixture has reached a boil, lower heat and add lemon juice or vinegar, stirring constantly. Mixture will curdle in 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle the curds into the lined sieve, and let drain. The longer it drains, the firmer your ricotta will be. Spoon into a container and chill. Keeps for 2-3 days.

Italian bread with fava beans, basil, parsley and ricotta

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