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Ricotta cheese: Easy to make at home

(CBS News) Ice cream, pasta, granola, ricotta...all of them taste better fresh.

This simple truth has been hard for me to ignore since starting class.

Most of these items, admittedly, I still buy from the grocery store - the convenience factor is a big pull. However, I'm now completely aware how much better all of them would be if I took the time to whip them up from scratch.

Video: Make fresh ricotta cheese at home

I know, I'm starting to sound like a broken record. I talk about the difference between store-bought and homemade a lot in this blog. But, taste buds don't lie!

Why else do you find long lines at small delis that make their own hand-pulled mozzarella? Or at hole-in-the-wall restaurants where you can get fresh pasta?

I admit that sometimes it's hard to argue for spending the time and effort to make an item from scratch - especially when it tastes just fine from the store. But when you come across a recipe that's just so simple and makes such a superior product - why not, right?

This is the case with homemade ricotta cheese. I love this stuff, and with only three ingredients and 10 minutes to spare, I can have fresh ricotta in my fridge. It's hard to find a downside here!

To learn to make ricotta at home, watch the video above.

Adapted from The International Culinary Center

  • 4 1/2 lbs milk (about 10 cups)
  • 3-4 tablespoons acid (lemon juice or white vinegar work well)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1. Place the milk, acid and salt in a pot and heat to 195F, stirring often to avoid sticking and scorching. When the curds start to form and separate from the whey, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest undisturbed for about 10 minutes.

2. Carefully, ladle the curds and whey into a strainer linked with damp cheesecloth (you can also use a fine dish towel or a thick paper towel for this). Gather up the ends and tie into a knot, and let it hang in the fridge for 1 hour. What I would do: let the cheesecloth sit in a colander in a bowl and weigh it down with a few cans to help push the whey out.

3. A bit of cream may be mixed in for a richer product, along with some salt according to taste.

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