It's amazingly easy to make your own ricotta cheese. Cheesecloth is very useful in this recipe, although you can improvise with a clean linen towel. The curds are smaller than the store-bought version, but the texture is wonderfully smooth and creamy.
|1/2 cup||heavy (whipping) cream (preferably not ultra-pasteurized)|
|4 cups||whole milk (preferably not ultra-pasteurized)|
|2 tablespoons||distilled white vinegar|
Place a large strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with a double layer of damp cheesecloth.
Meanwhile, place the cream and the milk in a saucepan and bring to 180 degrees F over medium heat.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the vinegar, one teaspoon at a time, stirring to blend. You should see tiny curds forming around the edges of the pan as the milk curdles slightly. Once this occurs, you don't need to add any more vinegar. If you don't see the milk separating as described after adding all 2 tablespoons of vinegar, add an additional teaspoon.
Cover the saucepan and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
Pour the milk mixture into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. The water (whey) will drain off, leaving the ricotta cheese behind. Shake the strainer to help separate the curds and whey, or stir gently with a spoon.
When the whey has drained completely, transfer the cheese to a clean container (it should detach easily from the cheesecloth). Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.