I learned to make homemade ricotta from a friend’s Sicilian grandma, who would layer the tender curds in a bowl, warm, with a lace of honey and black pepper for spooning onto thick-cut toast. As it turns out, ricotta is only a handful of inputs: whole-fat milk, salt, heat, acid and time. After that: cheesecloth and a saucepan.
This recipe also works well swapping goat or sheep’s milk for cow’s milk (just keep it full fat). I like champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar here, since their flavor is subtle; feel free to use lemon juice if you don’t mind some citrusy background notes. If you’d like to replace 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of heavy cream, I’m on your side.
Makes 2 cups.
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Place milk and salt in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat milk until just below boiling (the surface will shimmer and then begin to break into small bubbles). Add vinegar. Remove saucepan from the heat; let stand until curds begin to form and separate, 2 to 4 minutes. (If you don’t see any reaction, bring the milk back to a bare simmer for 5 minutes, or until the curds begin to separate.)
Clean out your sink (sorry). Line a medium-sized bowl or mesh strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, with at least 2 inches of cloth hanging over the lip of the bowl. Place bowl (or strainer) in the sink; gently pour in the milk mixture. Firmly tie the corners of your cheesecloth over the sink handle so the curds are hanging within it, hammock-style. Drain bowl and reset under hanging curds. Let ricotta strain at least 30 minutes for a delicate ricotta texture, or up to three hours for a denser ricotta. Add salt to taste, if needed. Serve immediately, or store in a tightly sealed container for up to 4 days in the fridge.