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The name ricotta comes from the Latin word 'recocta', meaning it has been cooked twice. That's because it isn't (usually) technically a cheese, but a cheese byproduct. When you've made cheese, there's leftover whey with little tiny bits of curd left in it, and ricotta is what happens when you drain that whey even further and turn it into ricotta cheese. This recipe, however, is for 'ricotta' that is actually cheese rather than a byproduct, because we'll be starting with full milk rather than the whey from previous batches of cheese.
Ricotta is what makes lasagna, ravioli, or stuffed shells so delicious. It also makes a great spread on a sandwich. My favorite breakfast is a plate of ricotta, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with garlic salt or za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend) and sometimes some chopped tomatoes and/or cucumbers; I dip pita into it, and it's wonderful.
You'll want plenty of time to make this. The work isn't involved or difficult, but there's a lot of "do a tiny thing, then wait an hour or two." Do this on a day when you're home pretty much all day. I like to start the cheese while I'm cooking other breakfast; do the next step and go fold some laundry; do the next step and do the dishes or dusting; and so on.
Total Time: Work: 15 minutes. Actual time: 8 hours.
Yield: Roughly 1 pound
Microwave-safe bowl that will hold a gallon of milk, with room left over
Second mixing bowl that will hold at least 3/4 of a gallon of liquid
Colander that fits slightly inside the second bowl
Cloth napkin that will line the colander and drape over its sides by a couple of inches -- NOT CHEESECLOTH (the weave is too loose)
Spoon for stirring
Heavy-duty kitchen twine
Hanging hook, strong doorknob, or wall-mounted plant hanger
Experiment with different types of milk. This doesn't work at all well with goat or sheep milk, but try 2%, whole milk, even buttermilk (my favorite) if you like a bit of a tart tang. Because the buttermilk has already clabbered (thickened thanks to the production of its own acid), you won't need lemon juice or vinegar for a buttermilk ricotta.
Thanks for sharing, how fun and interesting! I love knowing how to make things that I would usually buy at the store.
About that last comment. I don't get it. Yes, you might need to buy a big bowl if you don't have one, or a collander, cloth, etc... but those are one time costs. You don't buy the "gear" each time. Have you priced a pound of Ricotta at the store lately? It isn't 4 bucks I'll assure you of that.
How hard would it be for someone to post a recipie or a tip that only uses the ingredients that you have on hand, that doesn't add any packaging to your cupboards, and that is so easy as to be without effort at all, but still be unique, special and really good.
Thanks to the original poster for the great recipie for "Thrifty" and "Fun" Ricotta Cheese. This will help a lot of people, myself included. Thank You.