I like to make a lot of things from scratch, but I never thought cheese would be one of them. I live in the city, in a high rise – so it’s not like I have access to farm animals and special equipment.
After going to a recent cooking class with some friends, I learned ricotta cheese can be made at home – and realized how easy it is. That’s right – ricotta cheese! How can something so delicious and awesome be so easy?! This is how:
First, you’ll want to combine a 1/2 gallon (8 cups) of whole milk, along with a 1/2 cup – 1 cup of heavy cream in a heavy bottomed pot.
You’ll simply heat this to a simmer, where the milk has a little foam on top. The mixture needs to get to 185 degrees F. This should take around 10-12 minutes, and you’ll want to stir it a lot. I didn’t stir it constantly, but I kept a close eye on it. Experience has taught me that cleaning burned lactic proteins from the bottom of a pot is not very fun. I also used an instant thermometer and that helped, a lot.
Once the milk has reached 185 degrees, remove from heat and stir in some white vinegar. Some recipes called for buttermilk, but I had vinegar on hand, so that’s what I used.
Stir it around for a bit, and you’ll start feeling the cheese separate right away. At this point, let the mixture sit for awhile. Again, I saw differences in recipes from 20 minutes, all the way up to 2 hours. I opted for the 20-minute-route my first time making this. The next time I make this, I’ll let it sit for awhile longer and see if that results in more cheese.
After the mixture has set, start adding the cheese to a strainer with cheesecloth using a slotted spoon.
The resulting separated liquid is whey – which has a lot of uses on its own, according to a Google search. Once the cheese has drained off as much as possible (this might take up to 30 minutes), tie up the corners of the cheesecloth and allow the cheese to continue to drain for as long as you like. The longer you let it drain will result in a dryer consistency – if you like a more loose ricotta, then don’t let it drain as long. The consistency is all up to you!
Then, just store the cheese in an airtight container as you normally would – voila! Homemade cheese! This recipe will result in about 3 – 3 1/2 cups of cheese – it will keep in the fridge for several days, up to a week – but I bet it won’t last that long!
I couldn’t resist and had some as soon as I could with sliced almonds and agave nectar.
You could also serve it with honey and fresh fruit. Use it in Italian dishes like lasagna or stuffed shells. Soooo good! Here’s the recipe:
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
Combine milk, cream and salt in a heavy bottom sauce pot. Stirring frequently, heat mixture until temp reaches 185oF.
Once mixture is hot enough, remove from heat and stir in vinegar, combining well. Cover with a loose towel and allow to sit for up to a couple hours.
Spoon curds into a strainer lined with cheesecloth and allow whey to drain off as much as possible. Tie up loose ends of the cheesecloth and allow cheese to drain longer until desired consistency is reached. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.