A few months ago, my friend Sawsan from Chef in Disguise challenged the Daring Cooks to make our own cheese. She gave us a few recipes for cheese and at that time I chose to try my hands at making Chèvre. On the side though, I tried to make ricotta as well and I was so impressed with the result, that I have made it many times since then! Being Italian, I think I owe you a little explanation. Technically, this is not ricotta. It is what is known as cagliata, curd in Italian. The real ricotta cheese is more complicated to make and requires you to have made cheese before you start making ricotta as it is made with the whey left over from the production of cheese. Not very practical for me! Besides, to make a reasonable quantity of ricotta, you would need A LOT of whey and I don’t see myself making that much cheese at home. Anyhow, the final result is very good and it tastes just like ricotta… actually, it tastes much better than store bought ricotta. The only real difference is that it has a slightly higher fat content, but I guess you could bring that down by using low fat milk (though I haven’t tried it yet). Note that I said “difference” and not “problem”, as ricotta with a higher fat content does taste creamier and better than the low fat version. When I lived in Milan, I would often buy cheese from a local caseificio (an artisan cheese factory) where you could also see how they make the cheese you buy. I have seen plenty of ricotta and mozzarella making and I used to munch on still warm cheese on my way back home, in my parents car! Even though I am lucky enough to live in a city where I can buy reasonably good ricotta at the stores, nothing can compare with what my tastebuds remember. Nothing but home-made. And this is as close as I can get! You can eat this plain (I love it with bread!) or use it to cook savoury and sweet treats. I use ricotta a lot in my cooking… just run a search on my blog for many ideas and wait for my next post in which I will show you yet another way to use it! Enjoy!
- Combine the milk, cream and salt in a large pot and stir over medium heat as you bring the temperature up to 85°C – 185°F. This will take about 15-20 minutes.
- Add the vinegar all at once and stir for 15 seconds, then stop.
- Keep heating the mixture for two more minutes before removing it from the heat.
- Let it rest undisturbed for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Then remove the floating curds with a slotted spoon and place them to drain in a ricotta mold (or in a colander lined with a cheesecloth).
- Place the mold/colander over a bowl in the fridge (make sure the mold does not touch the bottom of the bowl) and let it drain for a couple of hours.
- Remove the ricotta from the mold and serve it!
- NOTE: The longer you allow the ricotta to drain, the more firm it gets. I got the perfect consistency after just 2 hours, but if you like your ricotta firmer, let it drain a bit longer.
- To store it, place it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge.