Unlike most other fresh cheeses, cottage and cream cheese, for example – the curd of this bland, light cheese is formed by the direct addition of acid to the milk, not by fermentation. For that reason the time required to make it is generally short.
It is good for such dishes as lasagne and manicotti, in place of cottage cheese.
You’ll find it is a bit creamier than most cottage chesses, with a much finer curd.
2 litres regular milk
3 tbsp distilled white vinegar or ¼ cup of strained fresh lemon juice
1. Pour the milk into a heavy stainless-steel pot
2. Stir in the vinegar or lemon juice
3. Set the pot over very low heat and bring the milk very slowly to a simmer (a reading of 200F on the thermometer). There will be fine beads around the edge of the milk, which will look foamy but will not appear to be boiling; remove the pot from the heat and set it, covered, in a spot where the temp will remain fairly uniform at a reading of between 80 and 100ºF (an unheated oven, without a pilot light, is a good spot) let the milk stand for about 6 hours or until a solid curd floats above the liquid (the whey); more or less time may be required, depending on the temp of the environment and the characteristics of the milk;
4. Line a fine sieve with doubled dampened cheesecloth (or better yet, two layers of very fine-meshed nylon curtain netting, dampened) and set it over a bowl; dump the curds and whey into the sieve and allow the whey to drain off until the ricotta is yoghurt like;
5. If you want a firmer cheese, tie the corners of the cloth to form a bag and hang it up and drain further; in warm weather, there draining might well be completed in the refrigerator; when the texture of the cheese is to your liking, and a little salt (from ¼ to ½ tsp) if you wish; store the cheese, covered, in the refrigerator; it will be at its best after it has chilled for 24 hrs, and it will keep well for 4 or 5 days.
6. It makes about 1 pound