Have you ever tried making homemade cheese? Does the thought intimidate you? Well, today I’m taking you under my wing and showing you how to make one of the easiest cheeses of all: Ricotta. Ricotta means “twice/recooked.”
Back in the day (and probably even now), the leftover hot whey from milk used for cheese making was recooked and the solid particles left after draining produced a very soft spreadable cheese. Since you probably don’t have any leftover whey around (me, neither!) the recipe starts with whole milk and cream.
I tried several and liked Ina Garten’s the best. Here’s my slight adaptation of her recipe.
Homemade ricotta cheese
You have to use whole milk and whipping/heavy cream in here. You won’t wind up with a huge amount of cheese, though.
4 cups whole milk
2 cups whipping/heavy cream
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
3 tablespoons good quality white wine vinegar
Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.
Pour the milk and cream into a stainless steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute or until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined or coffee filter lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 30 minutes or more, stirring occasionally and discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I let mine drain for a good hour, and then put it in the refrigerator to drain even more since I like a thicker ricotta). Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.
Or in a coffe filter lined sieve