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Homemade Creamy Ricotta Cheese

This weekend I handed my husband Mitch a copy of the Creamy Ricotta recipe by Maria Helm Sinksey on page 126 of Food & Wine (November 2008). He likes challenges like crafting beer and cheese, and found that it was easy and fun to make ricotta. He swore he would never buy ricotta again. It tastes nothing like the commercial version. Fluffy, sweet and scrumptious, it is well worth the effort. In case you don’t have this issue of Food & Wine, here’s what he did. Try it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†fine sea¬†salt
  • Cheesecloth

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot, warm the milk and cream over moderately high heat until the surface becomes foamy and steamy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the milk registers 185 degrees; don’t let the milk boil. [ We did not use a thermometer; just watch for it to get foamy but don't let it boil.] Remove the milk from pot from the heat. Add the vinegar and stir gently for 30 seconds. Add the salt and stir for 30 seconds; the mixture will curdle almost immediately. Add the salt and stir for 30 seconds longer. Cover the pot with a clean towel and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. Line a large colander with several layers of cheesecloth, allowing several inches of overhand. Set the colander in a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the curds to the colander. Carefully gather the corners of the cheesecloth and close with a rubber band. Let the ricotta stand for 30 minutes, gently pressing and squeezing the cheesecloth occasionally to drain off the whey. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and use at once, or cover and refrigerate.

MAKE AHEAD: The fresh ricotta can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

NOTE: What did we do with our maiden batch of ricotta? The bulk went into a Baked Penne with Sausage, Fennel and Basil and the remainder was used in Fresh Ricotta Appetizer with Roasted Beets on Crostini. But it was hard to keep fingers out of the bowl; we could have easily eaten the whole bowl plain.

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