Making ricotta is really quite easy. The trick is using whole milk and yogurt. I know what everyone says about fat, but you really needn’t be afraid of it. Unless you’re fighting for the fat off a pork chop, or eating several sticks of butter a day. It’s the kind of fats and the amount of them that you eat that really matters. So I assume you’re not going to be eating ricotta every day, so make it right, and enjoy it.
On with the show:
A heavy bottom stock pot
A flat bottom wooden spatula
A flour sac cloth or cheese cloth
A large strainer
A deep dish for the strainer to sit on
1 to 2 one quart canning jars with lids (if you want to save your whey-which you should)
2 quarts (8 cups) of whole milk
1 cup of plain whole fat yogurt
2 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 cup heavy (pasteurized not ultra pasteurized) heavy cream (optional)
Add all the ingredients to the cold pan, stir gently until combined. Let it sit on a medium temp, stirring pretty much regularly while keeping the flat side of the spoon on the bottom. During the first few minutes, line your pan with your cheesecloth or towel. Then return to stirring.
Continue stirring until the milk begins to curdle (at about 200 degrees.). Make sure you are still stirring and keeping the curds from the bottom of the pan. It’s not long now.
When the curds become thicker, turn the heat off, move pan off the hot burner, and get ready to pour your cheese into the cheese cloth. BE CAREFUL! It is very hot and will splash, so go slowly. Strain your ricotta for approximately 15-20 minutes. I fold my cheese around 7 minutes to help it strain but that’s not necessary.
Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can lift the towel and gently squeeze any excess liquid (whey) from the cheese.
You will be left with a beautiful ball of ricotta cheese (crumbled, it makes about 2 cups-minus what you “taste test”) You can add salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, chives, garlic, or nothing at all. This cheese will last about 3 days or so in your fridge.
You also have some beautiful and nutritious whey that you can use to cook pasta in, add to your baking in place of water, you can use it to lacto-ferment, or if you don’t want to use it right away, you can put it into the fridge for up to 6 months. This is also good to put on animal feed, in your compost or on your garden. But you won’t be able to make another cheese from this whey. You will want a more alkaline or yogurt whey. Some people drink this whey straight up or with some agave nectar for an extra good-for-you treat.