Many things will bring you joy and satisfaction when you first begin the wonderful journey that is cooking. Creating your first soufflé, nailing the perfect poached egg, baking your own bread, all these rank high and for good reason, as they require perseverance, a level of technique and some skill in the kitchen.
Along these lines, making cheese from scratch with nothing more then some dairy from the local grocery store has to measure up to all of the above with one caveat, this recipe is so easy to the point of being laughable. Very little perseverance, technique or skill is needed, so all are welcome to the wonderful world of homemade Ricotta.
With nothing more then some milk, cream, vinegar and salt, one can be moments away from the famous Italian cheese. This whey based fresh cheese is reliant on acid, in our case white distilled vinegar, and near boiling heat to unlock its potential and coagulate the protein. Time and some quick labor stirring are all that is left to bring this silky smooth delicacy to your table in under an hour.
A few after the fire critiques: Some add lemon juice in replacement of a portion of the vinegar (2 parts lemon to 3 parts vinegar). It’s a nice flavor but can distract from the cheese flavor for some so make both and be your own judge. A drizzle of honey, some cracked pepper, fresh fruit or smoked salmon over some baked bread or crackers is the call here but feel free to stuff into some lasagna or blueberry pancakes. You’ll thank me later.
Whole Milk (7 Cups)
Heavy Cream (1 Cup)
White Distilled Vinegar (5 ounces)
Salt (1 Tbsp.)
Medium Heavy-Bottomed Sauce Pan or Dutch Oven
Thermometer (instant preferred)
Dampen the cheesecloth ensuring to remove any excess water, fold in half to form a double layer, and spread in the base of the colander and set aside in the sink. Bring the milk and cream under medium-low heat until it reaches 190°F ensuring to stir frequently to avoid scorching the dairy. Add ½ the vinegar and all the salt and stir for 10 seconds. Remove from the heat, cover the saucepan with a lid, and let sit for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the remaining vinegar for a few minutes, 2-3. Pour the dairy into the prepared colander and cheesecloth.
Let the dairy drain until you achieve the consistence you want, about 15 minutes for soft ricotta, 20-25 minutes for firm and 30 minutes for firm and slightly dry. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a week. Indulge.