My husband and I fell in love with fresh, handmade ricotta during our first trip to Italy. Richer yet more buoyant than the ricotta we were acquainted with, these creamy cloud droplets won both our hearts and palates. Upon our return to the U.S. with our new-found penchant for good ricotta, we were left with but one choice: To make it ourselves.
Ricotta recipes overflow on the web, but the proportions vary little. We ended up trying Maria Helm Sinskey’s recipe from her cookbook, Family Meals. Beautifully illustrated and down-right fool-proof, we found Maria’s recipe deliciously easy! Whether you fold in herbs to stuff a cream puff or accompany a sandwich, top it on pizza, mix it into your favorite pasta, or create a crowd-pleasin’ lasagna, handmade ricotta is an unrivaled velvety treat that the whole family can enjoy making and eating together.
Pour the milk and cream into a pot. Over medium-high heat, heat milk and cream to just below boiling or to 185 degrees. With a spatula, keep stirring so liquid doesn’t scorch. Just before the milk boils, the surface will bubble and begin to release steam. Do not heat to over 185 degrees. Turn off heat. Add the vinegar and stir for 30 seconds; add the salt and stir for an additional 30 seconds. Cover the pot with a dish towel and let the curds stand at room temperature for two hours.
Line the colander with a large square of cheesecloth and place the colander over a bowl to catch the draining liquid. Using the strainer/slotted spoon, gently transfer the curds from the pot to the colander. Let the ricotta drain for about 30 minutes.
Gather the cheesecloth by its corners and twist together to force out the liquid. When the liquid turns from clear to milky and the cheese starts to push through the cheesecloth, stop the draining process. Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator. The ricotta can be saved for up to one week.