Whole Milk Ricotta from a Vermont Kitchen

August 7th, 2012 / Comments 3

Wine c egbert Whole Milk Ricotta from a Vermont KitchenWine is often used to add flavor in cooking, but whining is not a good addition to any dish, EXCEPT when it results in a new and wonderful recipe. Here’s the story:

I was complaining to my son, Noah, that peach season had finally arrived and I couldn’t find fresh ricotta anywhere. “If I were in Sicily, I’d to walk to the market, and get as much as I wanted and, I’d have a cappuccino and maybe even a cannoli on the way.”

With absolutely no sympathy, he said, “Why don’t you make your own, instead of whining about it? It’s really easy. You only need whole milk and white vinegar and, if you make it in the microwave, clean-up is a breeze.”

I wasn’t convinced that any ricotta made in Vermont could compare with what I was missing but, decided to give it a try. Using Noah’s recipe, I made my first batch in less than five minutes and cleanup was a breeze. Here’s how I did it:

Noah’s Whole Milk Ricotta 

2 cups whole milk

2 Tablespoons vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

I combined the milk, vinegar and salt in a four-cup, microwave safe bowl. After zapping the mixture for three minutes on high, my instant read thermometer read 165º. I removed it from the microwave and stirred the mixture for five seconds, (yes, five seconds!), until curds had formed and separated from the translucent whey. I use a slotted spoon to transfer the curds to a perforated plastic basket I had brought home from Sicily. I wanted creamy ricotta so I let it drain for about five minutes while I enjoyed a glass of ice tea.

Alas, neither cappuccino nor cannoli are on tap in my Vermont kitchen. Sorry, I’ll try not to whine.

I tipped the ricotta into a small bowl, there was less than half a cup, and put it in the fridge to chill. We ate it with sliced Pennsylvania peaches that had been sweetened with a drizzle of orange blossom honey that had traveled in my suitcase with the ricotta basket.

There’s no need to whine if you don’t have a Sicilian ricotta basket, or orange blossom honey, or that you haven’t been to Sicily; a mesh strainer or a colander, lined with either cheese cloth, a paper towel or a coffee filter, works perfectly to drain the ricotta, local honey is lovely and, really, is there anywhere more perfect than the Upper Valley on a sunny, summer day especially when there are white puffy clouds in a cobalt blue sky? If you heat the milk in a saucepan instead of in a microwave, use low heat and don’t let the milk get too hot and boil over. You know what they say about spilt milk.

Unlike traditional ricotta made by “re-cooking” whey, a byproduct of making mozzarella, whole milk ricotta is creamier and less crumbly. Resist your health conscious instinct to use anything less than whole milk. If you‘re feeling really decadent, you can substitute heavy cream for some of the milk. Rather than making such a small quantity of ricotta, I’ve been doubling the recipe and found that the ricotta keeps well for three days in the fridge. Lemon juice can be substituted for the vinegar but it will affect the flavor of the ricotta and because the degree of acidity in lemon juice is not consistent, it is difficult to specify the exact amount to use.

With fresh ricotta only five minutes away, I’ve enjoyed it spread on crusty bread and drizzled with olive oil, Charles used it, instead of mayo, on a ham sandwich and we shared a quinoa salad topped with ricotta at a pot luck picnic.

I’ll let you know if Noah has a quick recipe for making cannoli.

Whole Milk Ricotta from a Vermont Kitchen
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Recipe type: Side Dish
Author: Carol Egbert
Prep time: 1 min
Cook time: 4 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Serves: 1/2 cup
Fresh, creamy ricotta in a jiffy.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Combined milk, vinegar and salt in a four-cup, microwave safe bowl.
  2. Zap mixture for three minutes on high, until an instant read thermometer reads 165º.
  3. Remove from microwave and stir mixture for five seconds until curds have formed and separated from the translucent whey.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer curds to a perforated plastic basket or sieve lined with cheese cloth or paper towel,
  5. For creamy ricotta let it drain for about five minutes.
  6. Transfer to bowl, cover and put in refrigerate.
  7. For drier ricotta, increase draining time.
Notes

Low fat or skim milk should not be substituted for the whole milk in this recipe.
This recipe can be doubled successfully.

Heat milk in 30 second increments so that it doesn’t come to a boil and make a huge mess. If milk is heated in a pot, over low heat, it should be carefully tended so that it doesn’t burn.

 

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• 3 Responses to “Whole Milk Ricotta from a Vermont Kitchen”

  • Kara says:

    What a great idea. I have heard secret snippets of conversations over the raw milk booth at the farmers market. Now I will have to try it! It sounds delish. I don’t have any orange blossom honey but I do have local honey made in my own town…and not to rub things in seeing as how we have just met but I can buy a wonderful cappuccino from a lovely coffee shop on the walk to the place where I buy my honey. I will be visiting the farmers market on Thursday and will have my eye out for fresh peaches. yummy!

  • Carol says:

    You are absolutely right, it isn’t cheese and this recipe is different from the ricotta I helped make in Sicily, that was made from whey, after we made the mozzarella. That all being said, this whole milk ricotta is great until we get back to Sicily and our favorite cheese maker in the market in Ortigia, Andrea Borderi.

    Thanks for being in touch.
    Carol

  • Carol, I’m sure this cheese is delicious, but it’s not ricotta. Ricotta isn’t even a cheese. As you say, ricotta means ‘recooked’ and here in Italy cheesemakers make it from the whey left over after making any cheese, not just mozzarella. I admit I haven’t been to Sicily, but I’ve checked the Italian Wikipedia which confirms that Sicilian ricotta is also made from the whey (siero) left after making cheese. It’s high in protein and has hardly any fat in it. I take my clients to watch traditional artisan cheesemakers in the area around Lucca; they also make ricotta and are vehement about ricotta not being cheese. You made a simple fresh cream cheese which must be delicious with peaches. Heather

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