I fell in love with ricotta cheese a few years ago when I ventured into a little Italian shop that made and sold cheese, pasta, sauces, etc. I’m talking about the good stuff; not the stuff you buy in the dairy aisle at walmart. No. That stuff is usually crumbly and chock full of preservatives. Bleh.
Unfortunately, the Italian shop I’m talking about is a bit of a trek from home, so when I discovered I could easily make rich, creamy, delicious ricotta in my own kitchen, I was ecstatic. Cheese experts would probably say, “But that isn’t real ricotta!” and I would say, “You’re right, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the prepackaged stuff!”
Really, I think it’s splitting hairs over this whole “real ricotta” thing because honestly, this stuff tastes real to me–much more like the tasty ricotta from the Italian shop than anything else I’ve bought. I can’t tell a difference. And it’s not as expensive as even the bad quality ricotta you’d buy in a grocery store. You can get a half gallon of milk at the store for between $2-3. A half gallon of milk makes about 4 cups of ricotta. If you were to buy a container of pre-made ricotta, it would probably cost you about the same for less than half as much cheese. If you ask me, homemade ricotta is the way to go–even if it’s not “real.”
After all, if it looks like ricotta, tastes like ricotta, cooks like ricotta, bakes like ricotta… It is ricotta (enough for me anyway)!
- 4 cups whole milk
- 4 tbs. white vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar or honey
- Place a colander into sink or over a large bowl and line with a double layer of paper towels (or cheesecloth if you have it).
- Combine ingredients in a 1 quart glass measuring cup*
- Microwave for 4 minutes. You should see that the mixture has begun to separate into curds and whey. Using a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, scoop the curds into the colander.
- Microwave in two minute intervals, scooping the curds out after each successive microwaving. You will reach a point (probably around the 4th microwaving overall) when you can see that the curds are still mixed in with the whey, but are too fine to separate. At this point, you can pour the entire mixture into the colander.
- Let drain until desired texture is reached.**
- Scrape the cheese from the paper towels and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
So there you have it: fresh and delicious homemade ricotta cheese in less than ten minutes.
Use it to make cheesy sauces, in lasagnes, in cheesecake or whatever you please. Or, if you’re hankering for a bite of something decadent, have a spoonful drizzled with fresh raspberry sauce and honey like I did. Any way you have it, you won’t regret saying no to the store bought stuff!
In Love and Christ,