Sheltering in place probably has taught you new things about cooking habits - you love cooking alone! (not possible now). You hate making breakfast everyday (discover granola!) Milk goes fast when everyone is always home or does it? If milk seems to sit and then goes bad, here’s a way to prevent food waste, save a buck or too, and have delicious homemade ricotta.
Making fresh ricotta cheese at home is super simple. It only takes four ingredients – milk, cream, white vinegar or lemon juice and salt. Having a cooking thermometer is handy but not required. And as long as you have a dish towel or a fine mesh strainer, you are ready to make great homemade ricotta.
While ricotta is most known as the filling for lasagna, it is also good as a topping on pesto sauced pizza or just as a spread on crackers or whipped with cocoa powder and sugar to make a quick chocolate treat! Really, let your imagination go wild – what else do you have to do?
(makes 1 ½ cups)
½ gallon whole milk (you can use other milk, but increase the cream by ¼ cup)
¼ cup cream
¼ cup white vinegar or lemon juice
Salt to taste
In a large kettle heat milk and cream over medium low heat; insert a thermometer in the milk and cover to heat it quicker. Check on it as it heats and stir to keep milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the temperature reaches 180 degrees, turn off heat, remove from the hot burner and stir in vinegar or lemon juice and stir to distribute. You will notice the milk beginning to curdle and separate and whey (thin looking liquid) forming.
Allow the curdling to happen until it looks like all the milk has curdled and only the whey is left, about 5 minutes. Strain with a slotted spoon into cheesecloth or a nut milk bag or a fine metal mesh strainer. If you want firm ricotta (firmer than what you buy at the store) allow it to strain for 15 minutes. Otherwise add strained ricotta to a bowl and add ½ teaspoon of salt and mix in gently. Refrigerated, homemade ricotta will keep for about 3 days.