After making a case for raw cream, this is a plea for raw milk and the ridiculously easy process of making ricotta Spoiler alert: just microwave dat sh*t.
I’ve tried two recipes and methods described by J. Kenji López-Alt in his incredible book ‘The Food Lab‘ and messed up one of them so you don’t have to
The deal is that when you add acidity to milk, curds start to separate from whey (WHEEEEEY \o/). For some cheeses rennet is used to start this coagulation process, which traditionally comes from stomachs of young animals (NAAAAAY) but now also has vegetal alternatives (YAAAAAY \o/).
For one portion of ricotta (about 5 tablespoons), you need:
- 4 cups of whole milk – use rrrrraw if you can (more about raw cream / milk in this butter post)
- something acidic: vinegar or the juice of two lemons (for lemony fennel ravioli)
- The stove method: Add cup of vinegar and half a teaspoon of salt to 4 cups of milk. You could mess this up by using the wrong type of vinegar like I did and end up with ricotta tasting of, well, vinegar – even if you’re extremely willing not to taste it, like I was. I suggest you use the distilled kind that has about 5 tot 6 % acidity (vs the 12% I used). Heat this in a saucepan, constantly stirring, until it reaches 74 °C. Wait about two minutes for the curds to come floating to the surface. Transfer this to a sieve in which you’ve laid down a folded cheese / nettle cloth to get a very fine mesh. You ideally get just the curds out but I very gently poured it in there, which adds more liquid and thus a longer draining time. Cover this with cling film and let drain to your preferred texture, depending on what you’re going to use your ricotta for (from 5 mins = quite liquid – to hours = very crumbly and dry).
- The microwave method: I used this method for the lemon ricotta, knowing I was going to make this lemony fennel ravioli. Just mix milk, the juice of two lemons and half a teaspoon of salt and microwave for about 4 to 6 minutes on high until it reaches 74°C (mine took a few more minutes). Follow the steps described above.