Make your own ricotta!

Making ricotta

Yesterday afternoon Mr. Pea and I made ricotta cheese using our kit from cheesemaking.com. It was even easier than the mozzarella and tasted about 400 times better than expensive, prepackaged ricotta. I still can’t believe how good it was. You start by pouring a gallon of milk (we used 2%) into a stainless steel pot, adding a little salt and some acid; you warm it up, using a thermometer to gauge temperature, to about 195*, stirring a lot; then you let it sit. You pull out the curds and place them into a cheesecloth-coated colander, and then hang the cheese to further drain. The longer you let it drain, the stronger the flavor, the denser the texture. Ours drained about an hour, and I’m still amazed at the texture and flavor. Our gallon of 2% yielded about a pound and a half of ricotta–whole milk will evidently yield between 1 3/4-2 pounds. Our favorite milk supplier, which carries inexpensive hormone-free milk from a local dairy, was closed, but considering ricotta–the 2 pound size–is usually $4 or $5, this is a steal.

What’s lovely about making ricotta is that you don’t need anything fancy to make it at all. We used powdered citric acid that came in our kit, but doing some googling yesterday, I came across a bunch of other recipes that use lemon juice, buttermilk, and vinegar. You should try it yourself. All you really need is a pot, thermometer, and some cheesecloth; you can find all those things at the grocery store in a pinch.

Here are some other recipes:
With buttermilk, at 101 Cookbooks
With lemon juice or vinegar, at about.com
and with heavy cream and milk, at Chowhound

Ricotta pie
And look what you can make with your lovely cheese…
Ricotta Pie with Pineapple, I think I love you. Like a fluffy, subtly flavored cheesecake, you are delicious, even if your crust is a bugger to make. Recipe here.

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