Friday, February 11, 2011

Yummy Homemade Ricotta Goodness

I am supposed to be sewing my blouse this week for the Colette Spring Challenge, but I will be honest and tell you I have not started. I know, I'm slacking.  Instead I have been reading about making bread, cheese, and vermicomposting: all very exciting stuff but not sewing. 

Tonight I decided I was going to try my hand at making ricotta cheese because I had been reading about how super easy it was to make.  Technically, ricotta cheese is made from the whey of another cheese, but you can do the cheaters method and make it from milk and add an acid (lemon juice or vinegar.  The combination of heat and acid causes milk proteins to bind together, trapping in some moisture and fat, and forming soft white curds).  This is also  how paneer is made. 

I found a ton of recipes on how to make the cheese using everything from just milk & lemon juice, to more complicated recipes adding cream and other ingredients.  The KISS (Keep It Simple & Sweet) method always works, so I decided to use as few ingredients as possible and cross my fingers.  Using  whole milk from a local farmer, I poured it into a saucepan, added a pinch of  salt, and set the burner to medium heat.

Most of the recipes said to heat the milk to between 190 - 212 degrees, (this is the point where the milk starts to get frothy and gets that film on the top).  I the recently bought a liquid thermometer, and have to use it for everything; its so cool, you just attach it to the side of your pot! I think I will be using this all the time, just cuz. 
I wasn't sure on how much lemon juice to add as every recipe was different, so I started with 2 Tablespoons and waited a minute and this is what I got. Wasn't exactly looking looking like ricotta cheese. 
So I added another tablespoon....nothing.  A fourth tablespoon and no sooner had I put the bottle of lemon juice down did magic start to happen.
I give it a stir, let it sit for about 2 minutes, the poor it into a cheescloth lined colander to let it drain. 
Because my bowl wasn't deep enough, the whey was still sitting in the cheese, so I had to make a hanging system to make sure all the excess whey drained. 
After about 20 minutes I had beautiful ricotta cheese which tastes more than delish! And even better; it was super easy to make, I will never buy store bought ricotta cheese again. Now, you don't have to let your cheese drain for so long, I wanted a firmer texture which you get if you let it drain for a while.  If you prefer a softer cheese, then a 5 minute drain will suffice. 
I plan on making ricotta pancakes tomorrow and oatmeal bread with the whey (but more on that later).  

Have you made ricotta before? How did it turn out?


  1. Well, now you have given me one more thing for my to do list. I made ricotta pancakes last weekend! yummo!

  2. I made them yesterday morning! (and this morning). haha!