This recipe for homemade ricotta cheese was adapted from Grace Pilato’s at About.com It was perfect for my pasta dishes and the one that yielded the most cheese from a gallon of whole milk. Instead of distilled white wine vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar and I didn’t notice any difference in taste nor yield. ( Another recipe from Epicurious.com worked out very well for dessert dishes with the addition of heavy cream. )
- 1 gallon whole pasteurized milk
- 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (more if you want a saltier taste and if you are not going to use it for desserts)
- Rinse the inside of the pot you intend to use with cold water (this helps prevent the milk from scorching).
- Place milk in large, heavy non-reactive pot on medium heat. Add salt and stir briefly. Allow milk to heat up slowly, stirring occasionally. (I heated mine in low because my first try had burnt spots at the bottom when heated in medium heat. It took longer, though, so be prepared to wait.)
- When you notice steam starting to come out and tiny bubbles appearing on the surface of the milk, check the temperature with a thermometer. You want it to reach 180-185 degrees, near scalding temperature, just before it comes to a boil.
- When it reaches the correct temperature, take the pot off the burner, add the vinegar and stir gently for only one minute. Do not scrape off the bottom or you will have some brown curds! Add salt if required. You will notice curds forming immediately.
- Cover with a dry clean dish towel and allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for a couple of hours. I started mine in the morning and let it sit all day at room temperature.
- When the ricotta has rested for at least 2 hours, take a piece of cheesecloth, dampen it and place it inside a colander. With a slotted spoon, ladle out the ricotta into the prepared colander. Place the colander with ricotta inside of a larger pan or bucket (I used my flour bucket.) so it can drain freely. Let it drain for two hours or so depending on how creamy or dry you want your cheese to be.
- Lift the cheesecloth up by the four corners and twist gently. If the liquid runs clear, squeeze a little more. If the liquid runs milky, there is no more need to squeeze.
- Place in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for up to 7 days. Ricotta does not freeze well.
This recipe yielded a little over 4 cups of ricotta cheese. I poured the “whey” (drained liquid) back into the milk container and used it for some of my recipes that required buttermilk.
Here’s a recipe for Lavender Ricotta Cheesecake that is perfect for this!