Homemade ricotta? Seriously Claire, I have better things to do with my time!
I know, I know, it sounds like I’m taking this making things from scratch drum I bang on too far. That’s certainly how I felt about this idea until I gave it a go. I figured the worst I could lose was an afternoon, but I could at least gain something nice out of it and save a bit of money.
In reality, I lost nothing. It took me 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes, to make fresh homemade ricotta. And most of that was waiting.
Let me put this in perspective – I have made this a few times now and it usually looks something like this: Heat milk. Add lemon. Stir. Pour into muslin-lined colander. Watch Full House. Or Frasier. Or insert your favourite 20 minutes TV show here. Then enjoy some homemade ricotta. Seriously, it is that easy. I get to watch TV while I save money and eat better. RESULT!
Now, I do have one thing to come clean about. (Oh come one, you knew there was a catch!)
This is not technically ricotta. At least, not to an Italian. Ricotta is made with whey leftover from making other cheeses. Frugal, delicious, but not exactly convenient for those of us who don’t spend the small amount of spare time we get making fresh mozzarella. So I’m cheating. But the honest truth? Unless you are an Italian dwelling reader who regularly enjoys the fresh whey ricotta made there, you are unlikely to notice much difference. If any. In fact, this stuff is far far yummier, creamier and fresher than the packaged ricotta we get in supermarkets outside of Italy. So maybe you will notice the difference. But it will be for the better.
And bonus: when you don’t know what to make for dinner and all you have in the house is some on-the-turn milk, a couple of lemons or limes and a packet of spaghetti, you could have a yummy ricotta pasta dish ready in about half an hour without having to head to the shops! Just throw in whatever vegetables you have lying in the fridge or freezer and some leftover cooked meat if you have it – et voila! Not to mention, you also get whey, which you should absolutely NOT throw away!! It’s rich in protein, perfect for preserving, and really great as a buttermilk substitute in scones, soda bread or pretty much anything! Check out Don’t Waste the Crumbs’ post on 36 Uses for Whey before you chuck it, it’s amazing!
And if you aren’t sure what to do with it, why not check out Buzzfeed’s 13 ways to use it, and keep an eye on Raising Sugar Free Kids for our favourite recipe to use it in coming soon!
A delicious homemade ricotta in just 20 mins made with just 2 on-hand ingredients? Oh yes, this is it! So easy you'll wonder why you've never tried it before!
- 4 pints (1/2 gallon) whole milk
- juice of 1-2 lemons (2-3 limes will work too)
Pour the milk into a large stock pot or very large saucepan and place over medium-high heat until it is just below the boil (should be around 100C/200F if you have a candy thermometer you can use to test it - or just look for the first few bubbles to appear). Take off the heat and pour in the citrus juice. Stir well until the milk separates into curds and whey. If it doesn't all separate, place back over the heat for a little longer and add a bit more lemon juice and stir again until the curds are all separated and floating on the surface.
Pour the contents of the pan to a muslin-lined colander set over a large bowl and allow to strain for 15-20 minutes, until the whey has strained into the bowl and left just the curds in the muslin. The longer you leave it, the drier the ricotta will be, so if you are like me and like your ricotta creamy, check on it after 10-15 mins and move it to an airtight container in the fridge as soon as it is the consistency you like! If it's gone too far and looks drier than you like, mix a little of the whey back into it to loosen it. (And while you are at it, DO NOT CHUCK THE WHEY! You can do so much with it - see this post for 36 suggestions!)