Ricotta is an Italian cheese similar in texture to cottage cheese, but is different enough that you can’t really substitute one for the other. It is called for in a lot of Italian cuisine, but the good thing is that it is easy to make, provided you have whey, and can be ready in as little as seven hours. Since my local stores can’t be counted on to have ricotta when I need it, I’ve gotten in the habit of making my own every time I make other cheese. The by-product (i.e., waste) of normal cheese making is whey and ricotta is made from whey so it’s very green of you to make this and nothing impresses a starry eyed idealist date than being green….
You will need a good quality cheese cloth. The stuff you usually find at the grocery story will work, but the mesh is very large and you loose a lot of product.
- 2 gals fresh whey
- 1 gal whole milk (optional but increases yield)
- 4 oz white wine vinegar
- Cheese salt – or non-iodized salt, like Kosher
- Mise en place – measure and prepare you ingredients prior to starting.
- Combine whey with milk, if using milk is your deal.
- Gently heat to 195 F.
- Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.
- Line a colander with cheese cloth (2-3 layers thick) and gently spoon the whey mixture in and allow to free drain.
- Continue to drain ricotta from 1 hour for soft and smooth cheese and for 6 hours if you want firm and dry cheese.
- Mix ricotta with salt to taste
- Store in frig for up to 1 week
Note: powdered whey it not the same as dairy whey. You can find fresh dairy whey at some health food stores, but the easiest and freshest way to whey (couldn’t resist the pun), is to make another cheese and use the left over whey.