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Homemade ricotta

I saw this recipe on The Crunchy Chicken last week, and I knew that this was something I had to try.  Sunday was family dinner, and we hosted and I had planned on serving lasagna.  What could be better than homemade lasagna with homemade ricotta?  Well, other than winning the lottery.  And Take 5 bars.

Ricotta
1 gallon of whole milk (I used raw milk)
1/2 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar (original recipe called for 1/4 cup, but I needed a full 1/2 cup)

In a big pot (I used my dutch oven of course!), slowly heat the milk until it reaches 180 degrees.  Stir often!  Heating it very slowly took me about 30 minutes.

Once it reaches 180 degrees, add the vinegar and stir gently to incorporate.  Do not over stir.  The mixture will get really really thick as you stir.  Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

If my photography skills were better, you could see the curds forming at the top

After 10 minutes, use a slotted spoon, remove the curds and put in a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a bowl.  Let sit for 20-45 minutes depending on how dry you want the ricotta to be.

This paired well with lasagna!

Lasagna
Whole wheat lasagna noodles
Ricotta
Mozzarella
Meat if desired
1 egg
Spinach or kale, chopped
Homemade sauce

If you want to add meat, brown it in a dutch oven, and then add to the sauce.

In a large pan, spread a little sauce on the bottom.  Place uncooked lasagna noodles over the sauce.  Trust me on this, you don’t need to cook them before.  My friend Elaina told me about this tip and it’s changed my life!

In a small bowl, crack and beat 1 egg.  Add the ricotta and chopped spinach and/or kale.  Mix.  Spread half of the ricotta on top of the noodles.  The ricotta spreads so easily on the noodles because they’re hard.  LOVE this!

Sprinkle mozzarella on top of the ricotta.  Then start all over again, with sauce, noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling.

When I make lasagna, I always make 1 or more to freeze.  It’s just as easy to make 2 or 3 as it is to make 1.  I don’t freeze them before cooking.  I try to defrost it before cooking, but that doesn’t always happen.  In any case, cook it until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling.

The only thing better than yummy lasagna, is my adorable nephew.  I want to squeeze his cheeks.  Not in the way that Jack does, but in a sweet and snuggly way.

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12 comments on “Homemade ricotta”

  1. This really does seem easy to do. I think I’ll have to try it.

  2. Give it a shot! It’s a little bit of work for a big and awesome reward.

  3. Well there were 3 adault? males present when Sarah served this last Sunday. I won’t tell on the other two, but I may have had seconds and a half.
    Sarah’s Dad

  4. Sarah, thank you so much for this recipe! I live in Nicaragua where a little tub of ricotta can run upwards to US$9, if you can find it! Our lasagnas will be much happier now that I can make my own — made my first batch last night for calzones on Saturday, very excited!

  5. If you can make this you might want to try your hand at Labneh – don’t say bless you just yet, it is a traditional yogurt cheese and it is so damned easy to make you are wondering why you’ve never done it before??

    I know about this as I saw it early one Saterday morning watching a TV show aimed at farmers (who do rise earlier than normal folx even on Saturdays).. anywho, they showed this lady who was making MONEY out of this hobby of hers and empowering her community in the process by employing some of the unskilled people in the rural communities.

    It is so easy to do, here is a link to the recipe or google it for yourself (look also for strained yogurt or yogurt cheese):

    http://mideastfood.about.com/od/dipsandsauces/r/labneh.htm

    You can obviously tart it up with some chopped chives, garlic or something sweet and hot like pickled sweet peppers. Anything that you think would go good with something that tastes yogurt-y sour… Sugared Fruits? You can use it for a spread (I think you might have to strain it a tad longer to get it thicker), a dip or a topping for lasagna (would this work?)

    The lady on the TV packaged this in olive oil in balls in plastic or glass bottles and sold it. I also know of a friend of a friend who makes this and sells it at fairs and we print stickers for her, in batches of 100 and she’s had 3 or for batches printed in the last 2 months or so, so she’s making her bucks.

    I think this might be my weekend project actually… but first to clear up the crap in the fridge to make space for my hanging ball of yogurt…

    any ideas what to do with the whey?

    • Yum, that sounds delicious! I’ll check it out!

      I’ve saved my whey to use in place of the water when making whole wheat bread. It doesn’t change the flavor a bit, but adds great protein, and uses up something that would just go down the drain.

  6. How much Ricotta is made from 1 gallon of milk??

  7. Awesome! I love ricotta and it’s kinda pricy…… but this is awesome, so is the lasagna! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Love this trick, but I have to admit, I never have cheesecloth in the house. (I know!) so I use a coffee filter inside a metal sieve. Works fine, and what a great idea! Never to have to remember to buy ricotta!

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