Homemade Ricotta | foodsciencenerd.com

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Posted on Posted in Inspiration, Recipes

I have never had good luck with store-bought ricotta.  That hasn’t stopped me from using it for pizza, shells, spinach dip, or kale pie, but it won’t work for spreading on toast or crackers, or in baked goods that depend on large curds and little water content like pancakes or cheesecake.  Great, now I want cheesecake.  Anyway, ricotta, directly translated, means “recooked”, because the whey, one of the main proteins in dairy (casein is the other) is reheated after being pressed out of a dry cheese like Romano.  Heat, along with a little added acid, causes the casein to denature and coagulate.  This forms the curds in ricotta, i.e. the little lumps that give cheeses like ricotta and cottage cheese their texture.  Curds also form the base for pressed cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, etc., etc., etc.

The great thing about homemade ricotta is that it is cheap, fast, and only takes 3 ingredients.  And there are no stabilizers or gums that prevent the cheese from separating- a good thing if it’s going to sit on a shelf for months, not so good if you want to alter the consistency by draining off extra liquid.

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All you need is for two cups of cheese is:

  • 1/2 gallon 2% or whole milk
  • Juice from 1-2 lemons or 1/3 c distilled white vinegar- lemon is great for 90% of dishes, but if you really want to avoid lemon flavor, vinegar works great
  • Salt, optional
  1. Heat the milk in a large saucepan until it reaches 200F, about 10 minutes.

 

Homemade Ricotta | foodsciencenerd.com

  1. Add the acid, stir a bit, and then walk. away.  No touching. For 10 minutes.

Homemade Ricotta | foodsciencenerd.com

  1.  After 10 minutes, check the curdaledge.  If it is inadequate for you, add about 1 T more acid, stir, and let sit for a few more minutes.  Remove the curds with a slotted spoon to a strainer over a bowl, lined with cheesecloth.IMG_0917

  2. Let drain anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours (if you want to go for 2 hours, put the whole contraption in the fridge).  10 minutes or less will give you wet, small, loose curds, which is perfect for eating essentially straight out of the bowl with a little salt or honey.  Up to 20 minutes is a good middle ground for cooking or pancakes.  Over an hour produces dry, large, moldable curds perfect for cheesecake- this is also my favorite for eating on toast or crackers. If you drain too far, you can always stir some of the drained whey back in.IMG_0918

I meant to use this cheese for actual recipes, but instead I’ve been eating it on toast sprinkled with flaked salt and pepper, or with a bit of honey- not something you can do with the storebought stuff.  It’s pretty amazing, and it always feels good to make something by hand.  Use it to show off at a dinner party, but don’t tell people how easy it is!

Homemade Ricotta | foodsciencenerd.com

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gal whole milk, not UHT pasteurized
  • Juice from 1-2 lemons or 1/3 c distilled white vinegar
  • Salt, optional

Directions

  1. Heat the milk in a large saucepan until it reaches 200F, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the acid, stir a bit, and then walk away for 10 minutes.
  3. Check the curdling. If it is inadequate, add about 1 T more acid, stir, and let sit for a few more minutes. Remove the curds with a slotted spoon to a strainer over a bowl, lined with cheesecloth.
  4. Let drain anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours (if you want to go for 2 hours, put the whole contraption in the fridge).
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