Serious Eats: Recipes

How to Make Whole-Milk Ricotta Cheese

Note: Please welcome our new cheese columnist Katrina Vahedi, a longtime cheesemonger, eater, advocate, and general enthusiast. She currently works at Saxelby Cheese in Manhattan's Essex Street Market, and before that, lived in Berkeley. She's kicking off the column with a DIY ricotta (it's so easy, how could you NOT make it?!) and will have more cheese recipes in the weeks to come. Take it away, Katrina! —The Mgmt.

[Flickr: mellowynk]

Ricotta is possibly the most basic, simple form of cheese to make. It's a reminder that good cheese comes from good milk and that food needn't be complicated or have an impossible number of ingredients to knock your socks off.

It's also one of the most tantalizing cheeses during the hot months of summer, when we crave hydration and sweetness. And, in my case, ricotta pancakes, nonstop. Add some walnuts and a little green salad and they make a perfectly suitable dinner! Sure, with syrup, why not? Now we're talking.

But back to cheese.

Fresh cheeses are ideally meant to be made and consumed the same day, which means they don't require refrigeration or stabilizers or preservatives—they go from bowl to gullet in one happy leap!

In hot climates, the most common cheeses are fresh and high moisture products can be made quickly and, in the days before refrigeration, weren't meant to stick around and spoil from the heat. Slaving over a hot pot of milk isn't the most enticing activity for a hot day, but the rewards are refreshing and quick.

Ricotta is one of the easier cheeses to make at home—it's especially tasty when fresh from the cheesecloth. The single step that makes cheese is adding acid to the milk, be it from lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk, in varying proportions. For this recipe you will need a big ol' pot, a non-reactive stirring spoon, a colander lined with cheesecloth, paper towels, butter muslin, or a very clean flour sack dish towel, and a reliable thermometer.

Whole-Milk Ricotta Cheese

About the author: Katrina Vahedi has had a decade-long professional love affair with cheese and all things dairy. She is currently a curd pusher at New York's Saxelby Cheesemongers, after 9 years of mongering in California.

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