Ricotta cheese is a soft cheese you make at home with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen: milk, lemon (or vinegar), and salt.
Homemade ricotta cheese was the first cheese I learned to make. Making ricotta cheese is quick and easy; you simmer the milk and lemon juice and then let it rest. It only lasts about 30 minutes, most of the time sitting and resting.
After seeing how easy ricotta cheese is to make, you will no longer want to buy it at the grocery store. It's that easy.
How To Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
8 cups of milk (2 liters)
⅓ cup of lemon juice Or White Vinegar
½ teaspoon of salt, optional, or salt to taste.
if you are using ripe lemons, you may need a little more juice as the acid content will be less; try to use fresh lemons.
Stainless steel saucepan 3-quart capacity (do not use aluminum pots)
Stainless steel Slotted Spoon
In a large stainless pot, slowly heat the milk to 85 F. keep the milk moving (a stainless slotted spoon is best) to stop the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Once it reaches temperature, remove it from the heat, add lemon juice or vinegar, and stir it through the milk; do not whisk it. Gently blend it with the milk.
Cover and let the milk rest for 15 to 20 minutes. You are looking for a clear separation of the curds and whey. If the whey, the liquid, is still milky, add a little more of the lemon/vinegar till it separates.
Pour the curds into a colander lined with a fine cheesecloth. Draw the corners of the cloth together and hang the bag (I use butcher's string to tie the material and hang it off a cupboard door over a bowl)to drain for at least 1 hour, or until the curds have stopped draining or reached the consistency you want.
Remove the cheese from the bag into a bowl and add salt to taste. Mash the salt through the cheese. Salt is both for taste and will act as a preservative.
You can add flavoring to create a savory dip, some herbs, some homemade chutney, or relish caramelized onion. Experiment with small portions until you find what you like.
This cheese will store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks if it lasts that long. So far, 2 to 3 days at the most in our house.