Saturday, July 24, 2010

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

There are times (a lot, actually!) that I chafe at how expensive things are at the grocery storeI hate how high my grocery budget is and that it doesn't leave me a lot of room to "play."  Short of annoyingly clipping coupons from here, there, and everywhere, I do all the right things to keep my costs down (buy store brands, menu plan, shop only from my list, make a single trip to the store, never buy processed, prepared (and expensive!) foods, etc.).  And yet.  I still sweat like a maniac when I get to the checkout--makes me so nervous.

Anyway, I say all that to say that any time I get the chance to make something from scratch using whole ingredients, it usually costs me less in the long run.  Ricotta cheese is one such food that I was stoked to make on my own!  Aside from the package of cheesecloth (which I needed to have in my kitchen anyhow!), making ricotta costs the same as a gallon of milk!  Granted, you use salt and vinegar, but those are staples in my kitchen and not an extra cost to make cheese.  Plus, making your own cheese is tons of fun!!  This is will take about 5 hours, but it does all the work, and you get to go do something else while it is making itself.  I would encourage you to have a plan of what you will do with your luscious homemade ricotta cheese once it's done; it will last only about a week in your fridge.  :)


Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Source: Leslie Sarna
(Yields about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cheese)

1 gallon of whole milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup distilled white wine vinegar (or regular white vinegar will work!)
*I easily halved this when I made it the first time.

Directions:
  • Pour the milk into a large stock pot and heat at medium low slowly so it doesn't burn.
  • Stir frequently.  Heat the milk till it reaches 180 degrees.
  • Off heat and pour in the salt and vinegar.   It will begin to curdle immediately. 
  • Give it a gentle stir and cover.  Let sit covered for 2 hours.
  • When the time is up, place a strainer over a large bowl and line it with cheesecloth. 
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the solid pieces from the milk.  Let drain for another two hours.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge. *The leftover liquid is called whey, and can be used for a variety of purposes!  I'm still investigating on those, but a good use of it is as a substitute for any liquid in baking.  Store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

14 comments:

  1. I've been learning about whey lately, too. I'm currently in the middle of my first try at making it from plain yogurt for the purpose of using it in lacto-fermented pickles. I'll let you know how it turns out!

    And thanks for the ricotta recipe! How much ricotta does it make?

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  2. Lisa, I should have measured it out once it was done....I made 2 9x13 pans of lasagna, each with 2 layers of ricotta, and I still have A LOT left over! Now, granted, I could have really layered the ricotta heavy, but I used a moderate amount anyway.

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  3. cool i can't wait t try this out! Thanks!

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  4. Do you think powdered whole milk will work for this recipe? I am excited to try it!!

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  5. Hang on...what do you do with the large pieces that you removed from the milk? Only those go into the cheese cloth? And what is left over is the whey? Or is just the stuff that drains from the chunks the whey?

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  6. This looks fabulous! I haven't been able to find organic ricotta anywhere and much less at a good price. Thank you :)

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  7. @Anonymous--I'm not sure if powdered milk would work or not. Try Googling it and see what you come up with.

    @Bekah--Yes, you remove the large curds from the pot and put them in the cheesecloth-lined colander. What drains out and what remains in the pot after the curds are removed is the whey. Your drained curds are your ricotta cheese!

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  8. thanks for sharing,i do make it with lemon juice too.boil 1gal milk and add 1 lime or lemon juice to it.stir continuesly for 5min. if need add little more lime juice to curdle the milk.u see all the milk curdle and the liquid looks in almost water colour turn off the stove drain it in cheese cloth into a dish for that water.wash cheese under cold runny water to remove lemon taste then keep under heavy waight like galon of water or under big stone for 2hours then you can store in fridge or freezer.this is an alternaticve food to vegitarians in south asia.

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  9. Sally Fallon's cookbook, Nourishing Traditions uses whey for a TON of things. It's pretty useful and VERY nutritious for you. :)

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  10. Visiting from MSM - love this! Thanks for sharing. And as the previous poster mentioned, you can find uses for whey in Nourishing Traditions. I soak my oatmeal in whey overnight, then rinse and cook in the mornings.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

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  11. I like to make homemade ricotta and then add some fresh herbs to it and spread it on sliced, toasted baguettes. You can even toast the cheese on the baguette slices - so yummy! Also, it makes a great sweet dessert - add some honey and berries and you have a really simple treat.

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  12. Can you use nonfat milk? I've never made cheese before.

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  13. I am thinking of trying this in next week. I have Stuffed Shells on the menu. I am going to have to research whey. I hate to throw anything useful out. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Great tutorial; thanks for the tips! Will definitely be trying this out sometime soon. :)

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