This is incredible. It’s quick, it’s easy — it’s magic. It’s homemade ricotta cheese, using just whole milk, lemon juice (or vinegar), and a little salt, as well as a few pieces of equipment. It’s homemade ricotta cheese for less than the price of buying commercial ricotta. It’s homemade ricotta cheese that tastes fresh and pure in a way the stuff from the tub never will.
It’s homemade ricotta cheese!
“Ricotta” literally means “recooked” in Italian, because it is traditionally made from the whey that is leftover after making mozzarella. Some day, I hope to make mozzarella, but today is not that day. Today is the day I cheat and buy a gallon of whole milk at the store and make glorious ricotta just for the sake of ricotta.
And, hey, that’s still okay. Because you know what? You’re still making your own cheese. And that is amazing. You will also be amazed (and befuddled) by the amount of whey you have leftover from making ricotta; the whey from ricotta-making (unlike the super-whey leftover from making mozzarella) can’t be recycled into more cheese. It can be used in baking, drunk straight or mixed with lemonade, used to make stock or to cook pasta…basically it’s a super-liquid, or so I gathered from some brief online research. But I had almost a gallon of whey, and I was going out of town soon, so I just dumped it on our lemon tree in the backyard. Maybe it will become a Super Lemon Tree!
What can you use fresh ricotta for? What can‘t you use fresh ricotta for, is the better question. You can put it on pizza, in sandwiches, in pasta, or in the savory tart that I’m writing about next week. In the meantime, gather your cheesecloth and your slotted spoon and get ready to be amazed.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes about 3 cups of ricotta
– 1 gallon (16 cups) whole milk (doesn’t have to be top-notch local, etc etc, but try to make it good quality)
– 2 tsp. salt
– 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1. Line colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth (cut to fit, if necessary); set in sink.
2. Bring milk and salt to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in lemon juice. Let simmer until curds (cottage cheese-like blobs) form, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Using finely slotted spoon or skimmer, scoop curds from pan and transfer to cheesecloth-lined colander. Let drain 1 minute (curds will still be a little wet).
4. Transfer curds to medium bowl. Cover and chill until cold, about 3 hours (BA recommends the chilling, and I did — overnight — but seemed to me they were pretty solid right away).