Yield
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds
Time
10 minutes prep, 15 to 20 minutes cooking, 25 minutes total

Cook to Cook: Rinsing the pot with cold water before pouring in the milk will save you some serious cleanup! The reserved liquid whey can go into soups, stews and curries, and be used to cook pasta and rice. It will keep refrigerated up to 3 days.

Keeps up to 3 days, covered, in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon high-quality whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
Instructions

1. Line a large colander with a layer of cheesecloth and place in the sink or over a bowl if you want to save the whey. Wet the cheesecloth to hold it firmly in place.

2. Make the Ricotta: Over medium-high heat, bring the milk and salt to a gentle simmer in a heavy large pot. Stir in the lemon juice and continue to simmer gently until curds begin to form and float to the top, 1 to 2 minutes. They will first look like spatters of white, then gather into soft, cloud-like clumps. When you see the liquid begin to clear of cloudiness and the curds are firming up but not hard, scoop them out with a slotted spoon or sieve.

3. Let the curds drain thoroughly in the colander. If very soft, press gently to extract a little moisture, but take care not to dry out the cheese. Turn into a large bowl bowl, cover and chill.

What to Do with Homemade Ricotta:
  • Eat it warm from the colander drizzled with good olive oil.
  • Grill slices of crusty bread, rub with a clove of garlic and top with sundried tomatoes, ricotta, fresh basil leaves and liberal amounts of salt and pepper.
  • Toss with thick tubes of pasta and quickly cooked tomatoes.
  • Fill ravioli.
  • Eat for breakfast doused with milk and honey and a sprinkle of nuts.
  • Make a tart.
  • Blend with cocoa, ground cinnamon and sugar and slather on slices of stone fruit that you eat with your fingers.

From The Splendid Table®'s How to Eat Weekends by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter, 2011), © copyright 2011 American Public Media.