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This creamy, rich ricotta is a revelation when eaten warm, fresh from the pot. While store-bought is great in a pinch, this stuff certainly has it beat. Below, a few important things to know before you start on your ricotta journey.
When choosing a carton of whole milk, try to avoid ultra-pasteurized milk. When going through the pasteurization process, high heat alters the proteins in milk, making it more difficult for the solids to coagulate. Less coagulation = lower yield.
Choose Your Acid
Traditionally ricotta is made using leftover whey (a byproduct of cheese making you're about to become very familiar with!) to coagulate the milk. Since we won't be starting with whey, we're working with vinegar or lemon juice. Though both are practically imperceptible in the final cheese, we prefer using vinegar for savory applications, and lemon for sweet. (Hellooo lemon ricotta pancakes!)
Adjust Drain Time
Depending on how you'd like to use your ricotta, you may want it a little drier or a little more loose. Luckily, this is super easy to control! Just keep an eye on it once it's been transferred to your strainer. As soon as it is your desired texture, transfer it to an airtight to container and refrigerate it until you're ready to use.
Save Your Whey
Ricotta has a pretty sweet byproduct: whey! Whey is what's left behind after the milk solids have coagulated, and we implore you not to pour it down the drain! Not only can you use it to make more ricotta, you can also add it to homemade broth, replace water in baked goods like sourdough, and even water your plants, as long as you dilute it with water.
Looking for ways to use your ricotta? Here are a few of our favorites:
Strawberry Balsamic Bruschetta
Made this? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!
Pinch kosher salt
plus 2 tsp white vinegar (or lemon juice)
- Combine milk, cream, and salt in a medium pot over medium heat. Heat milk until a thermometer reads 185°.
- Add vinegar or lemon juice and stir to incorporate—curds should begin forming immediately. Reduce heat to lowest setting and leave mixture undisturbed for 20 minutes.
- Fit a strainer into a large bowl and line with a single layer of water-dampened cheesecloth. Use a slotted spoon to transfer curds into strainer and let stand until most liquid has strained into bowl, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and keep for up to 2 weeks.