This is a guest post written by Jill Hammond.
I didn't grow up eating ricotta, so I have been in the dark for most of my life. Once I discovered that it basically tastes like cream cheese but better, I've been completely obsessed with it. I put it on everything—savory or sweet—and I regret nothing.
I'd love to tell you ricotta is full of wonderful health benefits, but the truth is, it's still cheese. If you are on a low calorie or vegan diet, read no further. If you're in, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how easy and rewarding this quick recipe is. So much so, in fact, that you'll also be embarrassed you've been buying ricotta from the store your whole life. But don't sweat it too much; you're here now and once you've made this, you'll see the light.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
yields two cups
Recipe from The Kitchn
What You'll Need:
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
4-quart stock pot
Instant read thermometer
1. Pour the milk into a 4-quart pot and set it over medium heat. Let it warm gradually to 200°F, monitoring the temperature with an instant read thermometer. The milk will get foamy and start to steam; remove it from heat if it starts to boil.
2. When it reaches 200°F, remove the milk from heat and add in lemon juice and salt.
3. Let the pot sit for 10 minutes. The milk will separate into curds and whey. If you still see a lot of un-separated milk, add another tablespoon of lemon juice and wait a few more minutes.
4. Set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheese cloth. Scoop the big curds out of the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the strainer. Pour the remaining curds and the whey through the strainer.
5. Let the mixture drain for 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how wet or dry you prefer your ricotta. If the ricotta becomes too dry, you can also stir some of the whey back in before using or storing it.
Use or store the ricotta:
Fresh ricotta can be used right away or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. This recipe yields two cups of rich, delicious ricotta. I enjoy it on toast as a cream cheese replacement with literally any other ingredient (jam, olive oil, chili oil, smoked salmon, etc.)—the options are endless.
Don't ditch the whey! Whey is considered a complete protein with amino acids and low lactose content. If you want to use it, which you totally should, you can add it to smoothies or use in any baking recipes in place of water.
Avoid using ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, since this may impact how the milk separates.