DIY: Homemade Ricotta Cheese

by Shawnda on January 24, 2007

in DIY

When I wanted to test out the real prowess of my new food processor, I made homemade peanut butter. That got me thinking – what else could I do?

I spent a recent Sunday in front of the TV (rooting for the Colts) with a lap full of old Cooking Light magazines. My husband is designing a recipe database for me so I figured I had no excuse to keep years of cooking mags in various stashes around the house. Time to find the good stuff, import it into the recipe database, and recycle the mags.

I found a recipe in Cooking Light for Do-It-Yourself Ricotta Cheese. Make your own ricotta cheese? Are you kidding me?!

I would have never thought to even try it before, but the recipe looked so simple. Three ingredients – that’s it. The experience was incredibly rewarding. A 15 oz bowl of drippy-wet, grainy ricotta cheese from my grocery store sets me back about $4. I made nearly three times that amount for approximately the same price. Did you know that ricotta actually has an odor? Store-bought ricotta only smells “cold” while homemade ricotta smells creamy and rich – especially when its warm.

But the coolest thing was looking at that mound of gorgeous cheese and thinking “I did that all myself.” And it wasn’t soupy or grainy! Those perfect white pillows of tangy ricotta found their way into at least one thing I ate every day last week and made the perfect filling for ravioli. Give it a shot! If you love ricotta like I do, there’s nothing more satisfying than biting into perfectly textured cheese produced in your very own kitchen.

Ingredients
5 cups buttermilk*
1 gallon 2% milk
1/2 tsp salt

Line a large colander or sieve with 5 layers of dampened cheesecloth, allowing the cheesecloth to extend over outside edges of colander; place colander in a large bowl.

Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy stockpot. Attach a candy thermometer to edge of pan so that thermometer extends at least 2 inches into milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until candy thermometer registers 170 (about 20 minutes), gently stirring occasionally. As soon as milk mixture reaches 170, stop stirring (whey and curds will begin separating at this point).

Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer registers 190. (Be sure not to stir, or curds that have formed will break apart.) Immediately remove pan from heat. (Bottom of pan may be slightly scorched.)

Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon curds into cheesecloth-lined colander; discard whey, or reserve it for another use. Drain over bowl for 5 minutes.

Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Hang cheesecloth bundle from kitchen faucet; drain 15 minutes or until whey stops dripping. Scrape ricotta into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt; toss gently with a fork to combine. Cool to room temperature.

* To make whole-milk ricotta cheese, use 1 gallon whole milk and reduce the buttermilk to 4 cups.

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