After making some homemade pasta with raviolamp and using ricotta for a filling, I was suddenly intrigued as to how to go about making my own ricotta at home. It is a simple exercise with no specialty equipment needed. According to my Food Lover's Companion, ricotta means "re-cooked". Traditionally it is made with whey left over from making another cooked cheese, hence it's name.
The good news is for us at home, a perfectly satisfactory version of ricotta can be made with whole/full cream milk and acid - ie. vinegar or lemon juice. You will also need a pot, wooden spoon, sieve, bowl and a square of muslin (available at fabric stores for a few $'s - one meter will give you several squares of muslin for kitchen use).
|Fresh homemade ricotta|
Homemade Ricotta (makes between 350-500g)
Time required - 20-30 minutes
2 litres full cream milk (the creamier the milk, the more ricotta that will result)
1/2 cup cream, optional
3 tbs white vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt, optional
To start, rinse out the pot with water - this prevents scorching. Add the milk, (cream and salt if using), to a large pot and heat over medium heat, stirring well to prevent a skin forming. Once it is nearly at a boil (steam is rising and foam is accumilating, with the odd bubble surfacing), add the acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and heat for an additional 10-20 seconds or so, stirring, to ensure the milk curdles. Try not to overcook the mixture, as the curds will be 'rubbery'.
|Curdled milk, once the acid has been added|
|Draining the curds|
|If desired, excess whey can be squeezed out by hand|
|Leftover whey for cooking or baking|
|Finished homemade ricotta, ready for use|
Do you like to use ricotta? What are your favourite uses for it?