Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How to Make Ricotta Cheese

Fresh Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Fresh, creamy 'Ricotta Cheese', is easy to make at home and very versatile. Drizzle on some good olive oil and serve as an appetizer spread, use in pasta recipes, as a base for Ricotta Cheesecakes or make 'paneer'; a firm, chewy, fresh cheese. My next post will give instructions on 'How to Make a Simple Paneer' from the Ricotta Cheese recipe below. 

You are not going to believe how fast and foolproof it is to make your own Ricotta. Once you make this easy and delicious recipe, you'll never buy grocery store ricotta again! The process for making ricotta works best when using organic whole milk. Enough milk is needed to separate into curds and whey. You can control how wet or dry the ricotta is by simply how long it is allowed to drain.
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*CHEF'S NOTES:
  *For a higher yield and a creamier, more silky ricotta cheese; replace 1-1/2 cups milk with heavy cream.
  *Non-reactive cookware is made from stainless steel, ceramic, glass or enamel coated metal.
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HOW TO MAKE RICOTTA CHEESE       Yield: about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds Ricotta 
If the ricotta will be used for a dessert or for higher yield, use the heavy cream replacement.

1 gallon whole milk  (OR replace 1-1/2 cup milk with heavy cream)
1/3 cup white distilled vinegar 
1 tsp. salt

In a non-reactive pot, slowly heat the milk on medium-low heat to prevent scalding. Stir often until it reaches 185F. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar and salt, stir gently just to mix. The curds will begin to form immediately. Cover the pot and let sit for one to two hours to allow the curds to fully develop. 
Drain to separate the curds and whey

Line a shallow colander with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth and pour the curds and whey into it. Discard the whey or reserve for another use. Place the colander and curds over an empty bowl and let the cheese continue to drain for one to two hours, or overnight... depending on how dry you want your ricotta cheese to be. One to two hours is generally sufficient for a soft ricotta. Six hours or overnight is required for a firm ricotta cheese.
For a firm cheese, drain overnight
Keep the colander over an empty bowl so any remaining whey can drain and keep the cheese from becoming soggy while stored in the fridge. 

Once drained, transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate it promptly. It will keep up to a week in the fridge. To be on the safe side, discard ricotta cheese that has been in your fridge for longer than two weeks.  

Alternatively, ricotta freezes very well. To freeze, tightly seal the package and freeze. If freezing for longer than two months, place the container inside a heavy duty freezer bag in order to prevent freezer burn. When ricotta is thawed there may be some liquid at the top of the container, simply stir it back into the cheese or place in a cheesecloth lined colander and crumble it up so it can drain a bit more.  

The whey can be used in any baking recipe in place of water, whirled in your smoothie or drink it over ice. Freeze the whey in one cup containers to use in pancakes, bread or any recipe in place of water. I have even used it to extend turkey gravy when there wasn't enough turkey stock. 

Till next time... Bon App├ętit!

www.gourmetbysallyrae.com
Photos by Sally Rae
Recipe by Sally Rae

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