As I mentioned yesterday, this homemade cheese recipe is pretty damn easy. If you can boil water, you can probably make cheese. Except, don’t use water…all you need is whole milk.
Interestingly enough, there are some details in the process that warrant considerations before you get to the easy stuff. Out of all the recipes out there, there are two crucial components: the type of milk and the type of acid. As for the milk, the experts will warn you to stay away from organic. No, there isn’t some new study that shows that organic food kills you faster than non-organic or something additionally confusing like that. In this case, it’s all about the processing.
Organic milk (or at least a large percentage of it) undergoes “Ultra-Pasteurization”. As compared to the regular pasteurization, this process provides a higher dosage of heat to the milk which can destroy some of the key proteins needed for the cheese making process. And the experts are right! I tried this one out for my self just to confirm, and it’s true, the yield from the organic milk was significantly lower.
So now that you’ve gotten your milk chosen, the next question is about the acid. After you’ve slowly heated your milk up to a simmer, it’s the acid that will start to separate the whey from the curds. While white vinegar has long been a standard, lemon juice is touted for the additional fresh flavor it brings to the final product. I once again tried both and decided to split the difference. The cheese made solely with white vinegar was a bit bland and the cheese made solely with lemon juice was a bit overpowering. So go 50/50 and you’ve got yourself some deliciousness!
As you can probably tell, you’re working on a homemade ricotta. But the cool thing is, depending upon how long you let the cheese drain, you can end up with wildly different results. I haven’t experimented a ton here yet but even after just 15 minutes the texture is completely different. Either way, served with some fresh olive oil and a little lemon zest, this cheese is perfect on its own! Plus, think of all the things you’ll do with this homemade cheese!
Homemade Ricotta Recipe:
1 Gallon Whole Milk (non-organic)
4 tbsp salt
6 tbsp acid (white vinegar, lemon juice, or a 50/50 mix)
In a non-reactive pot, slowly bring the milk and the salt to a simmer over med heat. This will avoid the milk burning and producing some off flavors. Once the milk has reached a simmer, add the acid and stir for a bit to combine. After 2 minutes, remove the pot from the heat. You should notice the cheese beginning to separate. After another 2 minutes, gently remove the cheese with a slotted spoon to a strainer lined with paper towels. You can use cheese cloth if you have it but paper towels work just as well. Let the cheese drain for 2-10 minutes for desired texture. You can serve immediately or place in the fridge for later use.