I have a confession...up until a couple of years ago I didn't even like the taste of ricotta. I would eat it no problem in baked ziti or lasagna but I would never eat it on it's own. Don't know why, I just wasn't a fan. Then things changed. I've heard that your taste buds can change every five years so if you didn't like something five years ago, give it a try today, you may just surprise yourself. Maybe that's what happened to me, because now I love ricotta so much I decided that I needed to make it.
There are very few ingredients involved and minimal steps too. It can be made in a quick pinch and the homemade kind really knocks out the competition on any store bought version. Keep in mind that though this recipe calls for four cups of milk you will only come out with approximately 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of finished product. This particular recipe I made with lemon as my acid, it gave off quite a bit of lemon flavor so if you don't want that replace the lemon juice with distilled vinegar. There's a ton of ways to utilize fresh ricotta; spread it on some fresh bread, use it to top pasta or in my case make some out of this world calzones.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Yield: 1-1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes I Inactive Prep Time: 10 minutes
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons acid (fresh lemon juice or distilled vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Begin by heating the milk and salt over medium heat in a large saucepan. Be careful not to scald the milk, don't rush it by turning up the heat. Heat the milk to 180 degrees and remove immediately from the heat. Pour in your chosen acid and stir slowly about 3 times. Let the milk sit and curdle you will need to let this stand for 5 minutes.
In the meantime prepare a sieve to drain the curd. I took my pasta strainer insert and set in atop of a large mixing bowl. I then lined the strainer with a cheesecloth. After the five minutes are up pour the curd into the sieve.
At this point you can decide how long you want the curd to drain for. I let mine drain for 5 minutes which makes for a nice creamy ricotta. After I put it in the refrigerator the ricotta was nice and firm but very creamy. The longer you decide to let the curd drain for the drier your ricotta will be.
As for the calzones, you need to mix about a 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, some salt and pepper and basil into the ricotta and spoon it into a portion of flattened pizza dough. As you can see my husband prefers to use an ice cream scoop to portion it out which works perfectly.
When you have the filling in place fold over the edges and pinch the edges to seal them.
Lastly before you pop them into the oven pinch the center of the dough to make a little hole in the top, this will help heat them all the way through and prevent spillage in the oven. We ended up taking these bad boys to someone's house so I forgot to take an after photo of them cooked, so you all will have to use your imagination for that part :)