Why would anyone make ricotta when you can buy it? Along the same lines, why would anyone make yogurt when you can buy it? For me, it’s convenience and taste and probably a whole lot of loving to make everything I can. Making ricotta takes way less than an hour to make – probably about half an hour, doesn’t require your undivided attention and it’s homemade! 🙂
Any time I have milk that’s close to expiring, or even just reached the expiration date, I’ll use it for something and it always works great for yogurt and ricotta.
Here, we pay about $2/gallon for milk . . or that’s what it was before the virus. I figure . . if I think we need two gallons, I’ll buy three gallons so long as it has a long expiration date. It costs me more than $2 in gas to go to the store and back, not to mention that’s a waste of time and we never go in, get milk and leave. We always buy things we don’t need. So, I end up with excess milk sometimes . . not always.
Yesterday we got fresh milk with our grocery order. I had a little over half a gallon that had an expiration date of 4/13 so it was already two days past that but we were still using it and it was still good so I made ricotta.
Before starting, line a colander with a double layer of cheese cloth and place it over a dish to catch the liquid.
You can google and find a recipe but for the most part, it’s 8 cups whole milk (which is 2 quarts), 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 tsp. salt and 3 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice. You can make the recipe larger or smaller. Yesterday I had 10 cups of milk left in the carton so I used it all, increased the cream to 1-1/4 cup, used just a bit more than 1/2 tsp. salt and used probably 4 T. lemon juice. You an also use white vinegar in place of the lemon juice. And I really didn’t measure anything terribly accurately. It was the end of the day and I was tired and just wanted to get that done!
Add the milk, cream and salt to a heavy pot. I like to use a stainless soup pot. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring a bit but you don’t have to stir it constantly. Once it comes to a full boil, add the lemon juice, reduce heat and stir gently until the whey and curds have separated.
Once there’s obvious separation, use a slotted spoon to dip the curds out of the whey and place the curds in the cheesecloth lined colander. Once all the curds are in the cheesecloth, tie up the sides and hang it over a cabinet knob and allow it to drain into a bowl below it. I usually let it drain an hour or so.
Too much liquid left in the cheese will cause it to be grainy. Once I’m finished draining it in the cheesecloth, I’ll place several layers of paper towels in the storing dish (or zipper bag) and once those paper towels are soaked, I’ll add fresh ones. The more liquid that can be removed, the better the quality of the ricotta.
From the 10 cups of milk, and the 1-1/4 cup of cream, I got 1.4 pounds of ricotta.
Recipes for using ricotta:
Ricotta is the base for cannoli filing. Cannoli is one of my favorite desserts to order out but only when it’s from somewhere that doesn’t already have the filling made up because worse than not liking chocolate . . I really don’t like enjoying that smooth, yummy filling and then biting into a piece of chocolate. Yuck! Too many places have the filling already made up and the chocolate is already in there. I have the tubes for frying the shells but I’d about rather eat chocolate than fry anything so . . cannoli is probably not happening here but that doesn’t mean I won’t make the filling, sans the chocolate, and eat it with a spoon!
If you think you would like homemade ricotta, try it. It’s easy and it’s yummy!