Cheese · Cheesemaking · Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta #1

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YAY!  I MADE MY FIRST CHEESE!  WOO HOO!  NOW I'M GOING TO BUY A LARGER PIECE OF LAND AND RAISE COWS AND GOATS AND SHEEP AND MAKE LOTS AND LOTS OF CHEESE!

Okay, yeah, I'm getting carried away.  But still.  I've never made cheese before – well, okay, I made yogurt cheese but that's basically just straining the liquid out of plain yogurt – I didn't have to COOK anything.

So anyway, I'm on a cheese kick now, so consider yourself warned.  I've bought a book, I've ordered a kit, and next up will be fresh mozzarella, baby.  ALL.  SUMMER.  LONG.  And when the tomatoes start coming in?  And basil?  Layered with the FRESH MOZZARELLA THAT I WILL MAKE and drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper?  OH, you will wish you were my neighbor.

Okay, I've calmed down now. 

I've seen other food bloggers mention making their own ricotta and how easy it is, so I finally decided to pick out a recipe and go for it.  I used this recipe for this batch, and I'll probably try others here and there.

It was pretty easy, and cool, and fun, and if you're at all inclined, and interested, and if you like Ricotta cheese, then go make some. 

This version makes it using whole milk, but traditionally ricotta is made from the whey left over from making mozzarella.  I plan to try it that way, too, once I've actually MADE the mozzarella.

IMG_3546 So anyway, to make this version, all you need are milk, non-iodized salt (that's kosher salt in the little bowl), and white vinegar.  (Please excuse the slight blur to that photo – I was trembling with excitement and the camera shook.)

The fresher the better, as far as the milk goes, and you want to make sure it's not ULTRA-pasteurized.  Pasteurized is fine, but not the ULTRA, because that stuff's been pasteurized at too high a temperature to successfully make cheese. 

Here we go.

My gallon of milk is in the pot – the recipe in the link tells you to rinse the pot with cold water before adding the milk, in order to prevent scorching – along with the salt, and a thermometer.  I'm heating it on medium to bring it to just before the boil – also called scalding – which, per this recipe, should be between 180-185.

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Per my scribbled notes, this was begun at 12:13.  I stirred it every so often.

IMG_3552 Once the milk reached the desired temperature, I took it off the heat, added the vinegar and stirred for "no more than a minute." 

While I was stirring, the acid in the vinegar was already causing the curds to separate from the whey.

It was pretty cool, actually. 

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Then, I covered the pot with a dry dish towel, as instructed, and left it to its own devices.  This was at 12:40.

While the ricotta was forming, I made some pasta dough.

The recipe said to let the pot of ricotta-to-be sit for at least 2 hours.  I held out for an extra fifteen minutes.

At 2:55, I took the dish towel off for good and here's what I saw.

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Nope, it doesn't look all that different from the picture above it.  But there's actually more of the curds than there were initially. 

Here's a lovely close-up shot.

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And a closer one.

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Next step is to strain the curds from the whey. 

I lined a collander with some cheesecloth and set it on one of the bowls to my mixer. 

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Then I ladled the curds into the cheesecloth-lined collander.

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And let them sit for another couple of hours.

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And, TA-DA!  It's ricotta.

How simple, huh???????

From one gallon of milk, I got a little over 4 cups of cheese.

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And THEN what did I do?

I covered the measuring cup above with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.  I had to get back to the ravioli I was working on.  I could have used the ricotta in the ravioli instead of the goat cheese, yes, but I'd already planned on the goat cheese and had the flavor kind of working in my mind.  So I figured I'd make lasagna or manicotti in a day or two with the ricotta.

Which, of course, I did.  And I'll share that whole adventure with you next time.

For now, I've got to go make two pie crusts.  One of them is for a strawberry-rhubarb pie (strawberries from the Farmers' Market and rhubarb from our back yard), and the other is for a quiche my husband will be making tonight – on the grill!  So even though it's a quiche, if it's cooked on the grill, it's a manly food. 

That's it for the moment!  Now go make some ricotta!

19 thoughts on “Homemade Ricotta #1

  1. That is so cool! I just added non-ultra-pasteurized milk to my shopping list. I have been having a heck of a time finding fresh ricotta around here, and when I’ve found it in the past, it’s been ridiculously expensive. I didn’t realize it was so easy to make.

  2. congratulations! I can totally relate to the feeling. I was elated the first time I made paneer, which is basically the Indian version. My friend makes mozzarella and said she would show me soon. Yay!

  3. I just sent my husband down the road to get us some fresh milk. Wow! Can I just say, you are such an inspiration to me. Being in the kitchen is so much less the drudge when I check in with your blog.

  4. ooh, ooh, i just made ricotta too! the recipe i used just used milk and butter milk, and it was o so good. i made some kick-ass crostini with it (you can seem ’em on my blog).

    i’m jealous that you’re going to do mozzarella too. that one sounds a little too complicated for me!

  5. I DO wish I was your neighbor, because man do I love me some fresh cheese.
    Perhaps in a few weeks when I’m an official stay home mom I’ll have to give that a whirl. After I get over my fear of yeast and make bread. Although maybe I could reverse the order — bread baking is probably better done in the winter, huh?

  6. Shannon – don’t fear yeast!!! It’s tiny! It’s your friend! And you know, I was going to say yeah, leave the bread baking til the fall and winter when it’s cooler, but you know, the only time the oven is on is when you’re actually baking the bread, which doesn’t take terribly long – certainly no longer than it would take to bake a pan of lasagne or roast a chicken. So I say, go ahead, jump in and make some bread! You will be SO glad you did!! And then let me know how it went!

  7. Yay! I did it! I finally had time today to make the ricotta. It tastes so much better than most of the store-bought stuff. And less expensive! For a similar quantity of fresh ricotta I’d pay about $11. My cost was about $5 for the gallon of milk (a little on the high side because I went with organic). Less than half the cost and tastes better–what a deal!

  8. Di – YAY! Good for you! And I know – less expensive AND really good – SO worth it! I’m addicted now. This morning I took a half gallon of milk out to pour some in my coffee, and noticed the other unopened half gallon behind it…hmmm…there’s plenty of milk in THIS container, I could make a small batch of ricotta with THAT one….

  9. I made some yesterday using the recipe you link to. I came out fantastically well. I used it several hours later in lasagna. I saw another method on 101 Cookbooks using milk and buttermilk. I think I’ll try that one out next. Thanks for the inspiration and the link!

  10. Oh My God. You’re a legend. I found your ravioli post too and zomg, I am so in the mood for some serious cooking now! Your site is so so so fantastic! You’re totally linked 🙂

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