Making your own ricotta is something you will appreciate for a long time to come. However, making ricotta in this way is extremely nontraditional. Sacrilegious even. The word ricotta means “twice cooked”, which is in reference to the fact that it is made by cooking the whey that was created from producing another cheese.
But you have to try this, traditional or not. It is simply the easiest cheese you can make at home.
First off, you need a quality cheese cloth, which you can find at any good fabric store. When you hang the cheese to drain, do not be tempted to squeeze out the moisture but let the curds drain naturally. I hung my parcel by taking up the four corners of the cheesecloth and tying them round the handle of a large wooden spoon. You can then balance this over a deep pot or bucket.
This is perfect spring and summer food. Eat drizzled with honey or olive oil. Spread on toast. Spread on a pizza, with grated zucchini, lemon zest and basil!
Make this. Make it now!
The cream produces a richer cheese, but you can substitute with milk. This recipe produced almost 3 cups of ricotta cheese which will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge (although shelf lives vary, don’t take my word on this). Apparently it freezes well too, but mine did not last long enough to prove this theory …
6 cups full cream milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon sea salt (you can add more after draining to taste)
1/3 cup white vinegar (or freshly squeezed lemon juice)
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a nonreactive pot and bring almost to the boil (a thermometer should read 90C°). Stir the milk mixture occasionally to prevent it front burning on the bottom. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar or lemon juice. Stir a couple time, gently and slowly. You should immediately see the curds forming. Allow to stand in the pot, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with a couple layers of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into the colander and let the curds strain. After an hour you will have a soft, spreadable cheese. If you would like a firmer cheese you can use the hanging method to drain as much of the whey off as possible. This should take another hour.
You can discard the whey, or you can use it to produce more ricotta cheese (the traditional way). You may have about 1 litre of whey. Follow the same method as before by bringing the whey back to just below boiling point, then add 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice. Stir gently, allow to stand for 5 minutes, then strain.
Eat your ricotta right away, or store in an airtight container and refrigerate.