As the days continue to grow darker, my kitchen provides me with a creative space to explore local foods of New England. This past week I came home from the farmers market with a good deal of milk and cream, and therefore decided to try my hand at making cheese! I heard ricotta was a good place to start, and so I set out reading about the process and what I might need.
Ricotta is traditionally made with the by-product of cheeses, and therefore is not a traditional cheese itself. What we will be making is essentially a fresh soft cheese! So, if you don’t intend to make mozzarella on your day off and then whip up some fresh ricotta with the byproducts, take a look at the simple steps below for a lovely soft cheese you can dazzle your friends with and step up and dish from breakfast to dinner!
The basics of ricotta making involve fresh milk, an acid, and a touch of salt. The acid can be vinegar or a citrus juice. As a warning, I will mention that the most complicated aspect of this recipe, as I found at least, is to make sure the milk doesn’t scald or boil over- burnt milk is a nightmare to clean and smells really bad!
2 1/2qt. Whole Milk
3 Tbl. White Vinegar
1/4 Tsp. Salt
(you can also substitute heavy cream for 1/4 of the milk to give your ricotta an extra creamy taste: ex, 2 qt. milk, 1c. cream)
In a large pot, bring milk and salt to a boil, stirring occasionally and watching that the mixture does not spill over the sides. Add in vinegar and reduce the heat slightly, stir as needed and wait for curdling to begin (this should take about 2 mins). If you do not see curdling start, you may want to add more vinegar to the pot (just be careful that you do not add too much or you will have an vinegar cheese!). After about 5mins, turn the heat off and allow the ricotta to form at the top.
Pour the mixture into your prepared sieve lined with cheesecloth and let the extra liquid drain for about 30 minutes. What remains in the cheesecloth is your fresh ricotta! You can now store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
I hope you enjoy this recipe!