August 10, 2011

Homemade Ricotta


I'm blogging before caffeine.  What I need to tell you is that major. 


Yesterday, in the slightly cramped comfort of my own kitchen, I made cheese.  Cheese!  I combined four very common ingredients, added heat, used a cheese cloth (!) and an hour later, I had the creamiest, most flavorful batch of ricotta cheese I'd ever had the pleasure of tasting.  And I don't even like ricotta!

I told you.  Major.



I've noticed since I started reading cooking blogs instead of news sites, that certain trends float their way in and out.  Galettesshaved asparagus, and that Bon Appetit Pasta article, were everywhere.  And then they were gone.  Well, not gone gone.  It's the Internet, so this stuff is here to stay.

Homemade ricotta is one of those trends.  Every blog that I love and trust was making ricotta, and out of only 4 ingredients.  There was neither kneading, nor assembly line, nor anything that would require any sort of counter space which is usually what keeps me from making something.  That being said, yesterday I jumped on that cheesy bandwagon.

As proud of myself as I clearly am, in the interest of full disclosure, you need to know how easy this was.

I started by boiling some heavy cream and whole milk in a large pot.


While that was coming to a boil, I lined a mesh strainer with a couple of layers of damp cheese cloth, which you can buy at your grocery store, and placed the strainer in a large bowl.


I measured three tablespoons of white wine vinegar so that I'd be ready when the milk and cream were boiling.  I don't think I've ever been that efficient in the kitchen.  I was excited.


When the dairy finally started boiling, I turned off the heat and added the vinegar.  I stirred once to mix it, then let it sit for about 1 minute as the curds and whey started forming.  Immediately my kitchen, and thus, apartment, started smelling like cheese.  It was the weird and amazing.


You can't really see in this photograph, but the curds start bobbing to the top.  They are small, but they're there.  After the mixture had sat for a minute, I poured it over the cheese cloth to strain.


I let this sit for 40 minutes, because one recipe said that the longer you let it sit, the smoother and creamier it will be.  Sign me up.


I periodically poured out the whey, or watery stuff, so that it wasn't sitting in moisture.  As time went on, what was left in the cheesecloth actually resembled, well, cheese.  




See?  Look!


When the mixture had strained for 40 minutes, I set to getting it off the cheese cloth.  This is messy business, ya'll.  I used the spatula but eventually just used my hands because I didn't want to waste one adorable little curd of this cheese that I had made.  Myself.  In my kitchen.


I'll say it again, I do not consider myself a ricotta lover.  I think it's bland, has a weird, grainy texture, and it's expensive.  Yesterday I discovered two things: 1. I love ricotta.  It's creamy and cheesy and pillowy.  It's divine.  2. I will never, ever again, buy store bought ricotta cheese.  EVER.  I mean it.


And you shouldn't either, for that matter.  This may have been the easiest thing I've ever made.  The actual time you have to do something is, like, 10 seconds, when you're adding the vinegar and stirring.  The rest of the time is either spent waiting for that dang milk to boil, or watching impatiently as it strains.  It's cheaper, it's more fun, and you can bounce around your apartment all day telling yourself and your cat that you made cheese and that if you do nothing else, you've been productive.  




So I guess what I'm saying is this: the cheese is delicious, but the pride of making cheese in your own home equally as good.

Here's the recipe:

Homemade Ricotta (adapted from Ina Garten)


Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Method
  1. Add the milk and cream to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  
  2. Line a mesh strainer with 2-3 layers of cheese cloth and place over a large bowl.
  3. When the milk and cream are boiling, turn off the heat and add the vinegar.  Stir once, just to mix.  Let sit for 1 minute.  You will start to see curds and whey forming.  This is good.
  4. After the mixture has sat for 1 minute, pour over the cheese cloth lined strainer and let strain for at least 20 minutes, but longer if you want it creamier.  I let this sit for about 40 minutes.  Periodically drain the liquid that collects at the bottom of the large bowl.  
  5. When the cheese has drained for the desired amount of time, transfer to an airtight container using whatever means necessary.  
  6. Ricotta will store for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.  
Stay tuned for how I used this ricotta.  Oh man.

Oh!  And, enjoy!

3 comments:

  1. 1. Wheeere in the store do you find cheese cloths?
    2. Now that you have made this fancy cheese...what do you plan on eating/pairing it with? I'm new to branching out from much more than mexi-blend or parmesean...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I found cheese cloth in the section that sells over-priced cooking equipment :)

    Yesterday, just to taste it, I put some on toasted bread with some honey and kosher salt. YUM. I also made a pasta dish... stay tuned!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now that I see the ingredients, do you suppose the store bought "fat free" ricotta is made with skim milk and ff cream? I wonder if you could create "creamy and cheesy and pillowy" (great writing, btw) with the ff cousins?

    ReplyDelete