As I understand it, real ricotta cheese is made from whey left over from other cheese making. But since I didn’t have any whey, leftover or otherwise, I made this ersatz version. This is from Ina Garten (AKA The Barefoot Contessa) and is incredibly simple. Since ricotta cheese purchased at the supermarket costs $4-and-up, I will be making this instead of buying it from now on. Thanks to Lynn M. Kennedy for pointing me in the right direction.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Thoroughly wet two layers of cheesecloth or a clean dish towel (not terry cloth unless you like little bits of fabric in your cheese) and wring out. Lay cloth over a mesh strainer placed over a deep bowl or pot.
Combine milk, cream, and salt in a heavy saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally. Do not attempt to speed this up by turning the heat up – milk scorches easily.
Bring mixture to a rolling boil. When it starts to boil, it will froth up and boil over fast and makes a really awful mess, so remove it from the heat right away.
Pour in three tablespoons white wine vinegar, stir, and let sit until curds form. Might take one minute, might take 20. If it doesn’t start to separate, stir in another tablespoon of vinegar.
Pour mixture into the damp cloth and let drain.
It will slowly start to sink in the middle.
When cheese is as creamy as you like, scoop into a container, cover, and refrigerate four or five days.
You will be left with whey. I have read that this can be added to soups, bread dough, mashed potatoes, and so forth. I have also read it can possibly be made into cheese. Right now I have it in my refrigerator and I will investigate further.
A few notes:
I made this with an additional two cups of half-and-half along with the cream and milk. The addition of vinegar is what causes the curds to form, so any combination of milk/cream/half-and-half ought to work nicely to make ricotta. Play around.
Ultrapasturized dairy products may take more vinegar to clabber up.
This can drain as little as 25 minutes or you can let it drain a few hours for a really creamy cheese.