Ricotta is a soft cheese that you can easily make at home. It is excellent eaten fresh with fruit, or you can use it in baked dishes like lasagna or baked ziti.
The recipe below, based on whole milk, is one of the simplest ways to make ricotta cheese. In our one day soft cheese making class, we teach another approach, where you first make fresh mozzarella, then make ricotta from the leftover whey.
This recipe makes about 1 3/4 pounds or 4 cups of ricotta.
- 1 gallon whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon citric acid
Combine the milk, salt and citric acid in a large stainless steel pot, and mix the ingredients thoroughly.
Heat the mixture over medium heat on the stove top, stirring very gently to prevent scorching. Be careful not to stir too much because that will cause the curds to be too fine. Heat until the temperature reaches 195 degrees (F), but don’t allow the milk to boil. By the time the mixture reaches 195 degrees (F), the curds should have begun to separate from the whey. When this happens, turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with butter muslin or fine mesh cheesecloth and set it in the sink (or in a pot, if you want to save the whey). Scoop the curds and whey using a two cup measure and gently pour them into the colander.
Drain the curds until they are the consistency you want. The longer you allow them to drain, the drier your ricotta will be. You can eat it right away or store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It also freezes well.