Ricotta Reaches a Whole New Level…forget the store bought stuff!

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I not only love making cheese, there is no question that the store bought stuff doesn’t hold a candle to freshly made ricotta cheese (and other types) you can do in less than an hour at home. Once you make ricotta, you will never purchase another container from the store. Easy and delicious – what could be a better combination?

What I have discovered over time is just how versatile ricotta is…you can make it savory, sweet, or just plain, and eat it like cottage cheese. Ricotta can be used as an appetizer, an ingredient, or something you can transform into an interesting dish by adding other foodstuffs to it. You can even roll it inside hot freshly made Mozzarella and make another cheese delicacy out of those creamy little curds.

You can make Ricotta either out of milk or the fresh whey remaining after making mozzarella cheese. I do both depending on my needs or what I have going on and milk available. There is always a better yield of cheese when making it from actual milk, less yield when making it from the whey process.
If making it from Milk, you must use milk that is either raw or not ultra pasteurized. Many grocery stores now carry a brand of milk that is not ultra pasteurized, but not all stores have that as an option. Kalona brand is quite reliable and is offered at Whole Foods stores. Check your local grocery and see what they might have available. Raw milk is generally a guarantee for success but not as easily obtainable.

Equipment for making Ricotta is minimal and easy to obtain. I have a jelly bag and holder (from the hardware), glass bowls, stainless or enameled pot, slotted spoon or skimmer with mesh base, and most importantly, a reliable probe thermometer for checking and monitoring the temperature.

Eat Ricotta on its own or:
• Add to mashed potatoes for a delicious twist.
• Fill ravioli – add some herbs and spices if desired.
• Make a kid’s snack of Ants on a Log – add ricotta to celery sticks and add raisins on top to look
like ants!
• Add to casseroles or pasta with a mixture of other cheeses
• Make it sweet and use it as a filling for crepes, blintzes or wontons
• Add some simple cinnamon and sugar for a light dessert
• Add it to an egg strata or scrambled eggs
• Use the homemade ricotta for a cheesecake
• Herb it and used it as stuffing for pasta shells or mushrooms
• Mix it with egg and use it as a layer in Lasagna
• Add it to some fresh fruit and eat it for a snack
• Fill wonton wrappers with ricotta mixed with a little cinnamon sugar and deep fry them for a
dessert
• Use the ricotta as an ingredient in a cheese ball
• Make it sweet and use it in pastries (like a Danish)

Once you make your first batch of homemade Ricotta – you will be smitten!

Simple Equipment needed

Simple Equipment needed

Plain Ricotta removed from draining

Plain Ricotta removed from draining

Ricotta with herbs added

Ricotta with herbs added

A great use for Ricotta - filing homemade pasta to make some Girellini

A great use for Ricotta – filing homemade pasta to make some Girellini

RMJ’s Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
Note: I don’t add salt to my cheese – but you can if you choose – you would add the salt once the cheese is done draining). You can also add a bit of cream or melted butter to make your Ricotta creamier.

Yield: about 2 pounds

Ingredients:
1 1/2 gallons whole milk
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons distilled water
1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid

Directions:
In a small cup, add distilled water and citric acid; mix well and set aside.

Slowly heat the milk in a stainless pot (thermometer inserted from the start), until about 70°F; add the citric acid mixture.
Stirring occasionally, heat the milk to 190-195°F (do not boil).

Once the curds and whey separate, turn off the heat source and allow the milk to sit for 10-15 minutes, undisturbed.

Gently ladle curds into a jelly strainer or a colander lined with butter muslin. Let the cheese drain to desired consistency. Cheese can be eaten immediately (warm) or refrigerated (chilled).

Store refrigerated in a covered container 7-10 days

Making Ricotta from Whey
Yield: will vary

Ingredients:
Whey remaining from Mozzarella Cheese process (no more than three
hours old)
*Whole Milk (optional)
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar or cider vinegar (vinegar of your choice or lemon
juice)

Directions:
After whey is left in the pot from making Mozzarella, turn heat back on and heat until the whey reaches 200°F. When whey reaches that temperature, turn off heat and stir in vinegar. Let whey sit for a few minutes until all curds form.

Gently ladle curds into a jelly strainer or a colander lined with butter muslin. Let the cheese drain to desired consistency. Cheese can be eaten immediately (warm) or refrigerated (chilled).

Store refrigerated in a covered container 7-10 days.

2 Comments

  1. Fen says:

    Wow, you make it sound so easy! It is on my bucket list 🙂

    • RMJ says:

      Fen – check out the newest Blog…it’s on Mozzarella!!!

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