Living Richly With WIC: Making Ricotta

My first try at making ricotta was incredible.  I followed Smitten Kitchen’s blog for a rich, whole milk (and cream) ricotta. Absolutely delectable on homemade French bread, topped with fresh made blackberry or peach jam.

I was reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma at the time, but I can’t say that’s why I felt the need to make things from scratch.  I’ve always been baffled by packaged foods, and intimidated by the long aisles in the grocery store.  To me, making a batch of ricotta in the morning is much simpler than picking it up at the store.

With WIC, I’m limited to purchasing lower fat milk, so this was my first time making ricotta from 2%.  And as expected, it was not as rich and creamy, but fairly dry. However, rather than being a delicate spreadable cheese, it was sturdier and almost rubbery — perfect for cooking.

A full gallon of 2% milk produced a bit more than 3 cups of ricotta (more than needed for the cheesecake).  I normally save the whey for baking bread, but I didn’t keep it this time — I’m not baking much bread these days, and I knew I’d be making ricotta again soon enough.

I’m not laying out the instructions here, step-by-step, but am including photos because it is so stinkin’ easy.  No more than 15 minutes in the kitchen, and will save you a bundle of money.

Heating milk and salt to 190 degrees.

Milk after curdling with acid. I used white distilled vinegar, as it’s cheaper than juicing a few lemons. I liked the results with lemon juice. I will also try rennet and citric acid in the future. Since I was cooking with the ricotta, I knew vinegar would be fine.

After the milk curdles for a few minutes (from 5 minutes to an hour), drain with cheesecloth or other fine, clean fabric. I use a hemp produce bag that a friend made for us — the weave is tight and perfect for this.

3 cups of ricotta. Ready for cheesecake!

Whey has a greenish tint. Weird, huh? This could probably be made into ricotta again (ricotta means “recooked”).

This post needed some gratuitous cuteness, no?

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