Make Your Own Homemade Ricotta Cheese
When we make ricotta cheese at home it’s not really true ricotta cheese. Ricotta, translated means, “cooked again”. It is traditionally made with the whey left over from making other cheeses. Since whey isn’t readily available to home cooks, (you will have some left over if you make yogurt, or if you make mozzarella cheese at home, you’d have the whey left from that. For us that don’t make cheese at home, milk is used instead. What we have instead of true ricotta, is fresh cheese, such as paneer, queso fresco, or farmer cheese.
Speaking of milk, raw milk will produce the best tasting ricotta. If you use regular milk the taste won’t be as pronounced, it may be bland. A small amount of salt is added in the end to enhance the flavor, which does help. Goat’s or Sheep’s milk can also be used instead of cow’s milk.
If you often wind up with leftover milk, this is a great way to use it. I know of someone who buys 2 gallons of milk from Costco regularly, sometimes it got used, sometimes not. So when she was left with a gallon or half a gallon of milk, a few days before it expired she would make ricotta. You could also make yogurt.
The instructions are really simple, first you heat the milk (slowly), then you add an acid to separate the curds from the whey. I used lemon juice, vinegar can also be used. Some people use buttermilk, or even yogurt as a separating agent, but I spoke to someone who has used yogurt, and they mentioned that you can taste the yogurt in the final product.
The curds will be your ricotta, and the whey that’s left is highly nutritious. Whey is a complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids needed by the body. Using it when making bread, or when soaking dry beans makes the bread or the beans, more digestible. If your whey looks greenish, don’t worry, that’s the riboflavin or vitamin B2.
Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese
Ingredients8 cups fresh whole milk, raw milk is best, but you can also use homogenized. Goat milk or sheeps milk works also
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or vinegar
a cup or so of cream, or milk (optional) for adding in later
Heat the milk until it reaches a simmer. This will take on medium heat about 20 or 30 minutes. Or until it reaches a temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius.)
When the milk comes to temperature, remove the pot from the stove and stir in the lemon juice, (or vinegar). Add it, then stir gently, only to distribute the acid. Then stop stirring and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The curds will have separated from the whey. Gently pour this mixture over a fine mesh sieve covered with cheesecloth sitting over a bowl to catch the whey.
Let it drain for just a minute or two. You will know at this point how dry the ricotta looks, or how moist it is. Mine got dry fast. I wanted it to be quite moist, so I stirred in some cream to get it to the consistency I wanted it. You could also stir in some of the whey to reach the desired consistency, or milk, your choice. Stir in a few pinches of salt, to taste. Store in the refrigerator.
This keeps in the fridge just for 3 or 4 days.
How make ricotta, a very detailed post from Lex Culinaria