Homemade Ricotta

090I love making fresh ricotta! In Italian, ricotta means “recooked” and is not actually cheese.

Ricotta is a by-product of making mozzarella. When mozzarella is made the left over whey is cooked again, transforming into ricotta … genius (Italians waste little).

Technically, since we are only cooking this once, I suppose this isn’t even ricotta. But it tastes so rich and creamy, it’s as close to the authentic Italian sheep’s milk ricotta that I can get outside of Italy .

Unlike other homemade cheeses, ricotta does not need cultures or rennet. This recipe is so easy that you will make it often and never, ever, go back to the flavorless stuff that is sold in the market.

Make some today and enjoy it in ricotta gnocchi, mini lemon-ricotta pancakes, lasagna soupricotta al caffe or a (no-cooking required) fresh ricotta sauce to be enjoyed over pasta. My favorite way to savor this delicious dish is with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil while it’s still warm … Mmm!

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, combine the milk, cream, vinegar and salt. Give it a quick stir, bring to a boil (do not stir as the ricotta curds are forming).

Meanwhile, line a strainer or colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth, place in a large bowl (for ricotta to drain) or the sink.

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As soon as the milk begins to boil, turn off the heat, set the pot aside. You will see the curds forming as they separate from the whey (the cloudy liquid). Now you have curds and whey (there’s a nursery rhyme in there somewhere).

 

 

 

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Let the curds cool for 5-10 minutes, then using a slotted spoon, scoop out the curds into the strainer (don’t pour them out, they will break apart).

 

 

 

 

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Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and tie to the handle of a long wooden spoon. Place the spoon over a pot or bowl to finish draining for 15 minutes or so.

Use while still warm or remove from cheesecloth to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use (within 4-5 days). Makes approximately 2 cups.

If you are using the ricotta for a sweet dish (cannoli cream or ricotta al cafe) it needs no additional salt. If you’re using it in a savory dish, season with with more salt to taste.

 

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For those of us with a sweet tooth this is excellent  with a drizzle of  honey too!

 

 

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