I mentioned earlier this week that my first attempt at homemade ricotta was a total bust. I followed Smitten Kitchen's recipe, and it just didn't curdle properly. It was sort of lightly turned milk (gross). I used Meyer lemon juice, and maybe it wasn't acidic enough?
After I bit of research, I came across this food lab article by Serious Eats. I tried again with vinegar and only whole milk (not a combination of milk and cream). After I added the vinegar, I kept the pan on the stove, with the heat off, for five minutes. As you can see, it worked! When I placed the mixture over the cheese cloth, the whey drained off really quickly. I only let it strain for five minutes (instead of over two hours the first time!). It came off of the cheese cloth like a nice, fresh blop of cheese. Success!
I was so proud. It was almost better because of the first failure, you know? This week we ate it in a pasta dish with cauliflower, and also mixed it with pesto for an artichoke pizza. So good!
You will need:
4 cups whole milk (not ultra pasteurized - it's science!)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vinegar (white or apple cider)
Using a candy thermometer, heat milk and salt in a pan to 180-200 degrees F, stirring occasionally. With the heat still on, add in 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Turn the heat off, and stir gently once or twice. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for five minutes. It should be very curdled and look like the second picture, above.
While letting the vinegar and milk mixture sit, place a fine mesh colander over a bowl. Line with cheese cloth or a few layers of paper towels. Pour the mixture over the cheese cloth. Let sit for one to five minutes, depending on how "loose" you'd like your cheese to be. Place ricotta into an air tight container and refrigerate. It can be stored for up to four days.
I dumped the whey out (it looked like...lemonade, to be polite), but some people find good ways to use it!