Tonight I decided to try something I've wanted to try for a long time. Making ricotta cheese from scratch. Must to my pleasure, it was a success!
Homemade Ricotta requires 4 simple ingredients:
Cooking thermometer (or candy thermometer)
Spatula for stirring
Metal mesh strainer
Mix 8 cups whole milk and 1 teaspoon salt in a large pan over med/high heat. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
Continue to stir occasionally and watch temperature carefully. Heat milk to 190 degrees then turn off burner and remove pan from heat.
Measure 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 tablespoons vinegar.
(After doing research I found that a mixture seemed to be the best bet. Lemon juice gives it a bit of flavor but the vinegar ensures that there is enough acid to create a curdling reaction in the milk.)
Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to curdle and cool. Meanwhile, set up your metal mesh strainer over a large bowl.
Carefully poor the curdled milk mixture through the strainer (pause occasionally to give it time to drain.) Be careful while pouring, the mixture will still be very hot!
Let the cheese sit in the strainer for about 45 minutes. To make a moister creamier ricotta let drain for less time, to make a dyer firmer ricotta let sit for longer or use a cheese cloth to squeeze out more moisture.
I had some very curious eyes wanting to see how I "made cheese" :-)
I found that 45 minutes to draining time left me with the perfect texture of ricotta for my lasagna.
8 cups of milk cooked down to about 2 cups of ricotta cheese. Make sure to put cheese into a container and refrigerate until you are ready to use. Remember this is homemade cheese so there are none of those nasty chemicals and preservatives in it, but that means it will only keep for a few day in your fridge so be prepared to use it within a few days!
Happy Cheese Making!