The only thing better than a good recipe? When something is so easy to do that you don’t even need one. Welcome to As simple as that, a column where we walk you through the process of making food and drink that we can make with our eyes closed.
Some of my strongest food cravings have increased in the worst of times – like when my partner and I were snowed in and we just had to have it lasagne. We were missing ricotta, of course, and there was no way we could make it into the store. Now I know there’s talk of whether ricotta belongs in lasagna at all, but that’s how my mother used to do it, and that’s how I do it most of the time. So for us lasagna wasn’t possible without them.
Fortunately, ricotta is shockingly easy to make. All you need is milk, some kind of acid like vinegar or lemon juice, and salt. That’s it. Not really!
Having never made our own ricotta before, we didn’t know what to expect. We hoped it could work. That it would be good. Passable. Edible? We definitely didn’t expect it to be so nicely structured, extremely aromatic, and a staple food that we would never buy ricotta in the supermarket again.
We ate so much of it while it was still warm that we almost didn’t have enough for the recipe. The lasagna, which was my reason for living just an hour ago, became a distant memory when the fluffy, salty, light, fresh cheese hit our mouths.
We used a full gallon of milk on our first foray into ricotta making and that left us with piles of cheese to keep up with the drifting snow in the yard. Fortunately, this recipe can be easily scaled up or down – the following method makes a little more than a pound of ricotta pretty reliably. It’s a really good option too Blow through milk that is shortly before or shortly after the best-before date.
How to make fresh ricotta:
To make about 1 pound, pour 3 liters of whole milk (avoid ultra-pasteurized), ¼ cup of white vinegar, and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt Place in a large saucepan with a thick bottom over medium heat. You can subtly change the taste by choosing different acids: lemon juice gives it a hint of lemon, while regular white vinegar doesn’t change the taste too much. I highly recommend experimenting with different acids – my partner really got into making his own vinegar, and his pumpkin and beet vinegar made for a really interesting ricotta.