Food, Misc

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

One of my favorite blogs to read is Simply Scratch.  I pretty much love every recipe she puts on her blog.  So when she posted this Lemon Basil Ricotta recipe, I was intrigued.  Before this point, I had no idea that you could actually make your own ricotta cheese…and that it is so simple!

As I was browsing homemade ricotta cheese recipes, I found out that when you make it homemade (from whole milk), it’s not technically ricotta because ricotta cheese is actually made from whey, not milk.  However, it’s close enough to the real thing that everyone calls it ricotta.

I also found out that you can use distilled white vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice as the acid to make ricotta.  Vinegar has the least flavor, so I decided to use vinegar, since I made the ricotta to use in a recipe later.  Next time I make it though, I think I’m going to try the lemon basil ricotta and use it as a spread for crackers.  Yum!

Mostly every recipe I found recommends using cheesecloth. However, I am trying to pinch pennies and decided that if I had to buy a $5 package of cheesecloth it would just be cheaper to buy the prepackaged store-bought ricotta. So I decided to use paper towels instead (some recipes said they work fine if you don’t have cheesecloth).  I bought some Brawny in the regular size (not select-a-size) and they worked mostly fine.  I just lined my colander with one paper towel and it seemed to work fine, leaving the cheese curds and letting the liquid pass through.  When it came to twisting and squeezing the excess liquid out, the paper towel broke.  I should have either put another paper towel under the first one or simply let the cheese curds sit in the colander to strain for 5-10 more minutes.  I think I’ll probably still use a paper towel next time I make ricotta because they’re cheap and I have them already on hand.  However, if you’ve got some cheesecloth, it’s worth using that instead of the paper towel.  (P.S. Look for a great pasta recipe tomorrow with this ricotta!)

Heat the milk to 180-190°F, while stirring constantly.
Remove the milk from the heat and pour in the vinegar.  Stir and then let sit for 25 minutes.
Pour milk through a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel.  If you want a thicker cheese, you can twist and squeeze a little bit.  Refrigerate.

Ricotta Cheese
(adapted from Food and Style)
4 cups whole milk
3 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
salt for tasting

1. Heat milk in saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently so milk doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.  Heat until milk reaches 180-190°F and is foamy but doesn’t boil.
2. Immediately remove from heat and stir in the vinegar.  Let sit for 25 minutes without stirring.
3. Meanwhile, line a colander with cheesecloth or a strong paper towel and place over a large bowl.  After 25 minutes, carefully pour milk into prepared colander. Drain. Twist and lightly squeeze out some more of the liquid if you want a firmer ricotta.
4. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until ready to use.

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