Shout-out to all the moms who have been stuck inside with their kids for the past two weeks! Like you, I just survived two five-day weekends in a row, thanks to school cancellations due to snow, ice, and extreme temperatures. I’ve been too busy watching hours of reruns of Bunk’d to be able to take a little quiet time to write, and thanks to that, I have a strong opinion about the new kids that have been added to the show.
And, like many of us who prepared for the epic snowmageddon and polar vortex, I bought an extra gallon of milk in case I wouldn’t be able to get to the store. We live about nine miles from the closest grocery, and when weather gets this bad, we hunker down until it’s safe to be on the road.
So, now that Old Man Winter has settled his grumpy attitude a bit, and the kids are back in school, I noticed that I never did use that extra gallon of milk. We’re not big milk drinkers, so a gallon lasts us a long time. And I noticed today that it’s getting close to the expiration date, so I instantly thought that I should make a batch of my Three-Ingredient Ricotta and have stuffed shells for dinner.
I began making my own ricotta a while ago, when the price of milk plummeted to $0.99/gallon at my local discount grocery store. But, I noticed that the cost of ricotta cheese had not fluctuated much, costing between $3.29 - $3.99 for a small container. So, for 50 cents’ worth of milk, I can make at least $3.29 worth of ricotta. That’s about an 85 percent savings, according to my sister (Yes, I texted her to do the math for me. I prayed for D’s in math when I was in school.).
If you’ve never made ricotta before, this is a really easy recipe to try and then tweak it to your preference once you get the method down pat. You can add lemon zest or other seasonings to make it extra special. You can use it in dessert recipes, too, such as ricotta cookies. In fact, I’ll never go back to buying ricotta because it’s so easy, and it helps me stretch my grocery budget even further. With this recipe, you’ll get a small-curd ricotta that doesn’t have that grittiness sometimes found in the store-bought stuff. It’s light, fluffy, and tangy. So, if you have a little time, give this ricotta recipe a try.
• 8 cups whole, full-fat milk
• ½ cup vinegar
• 1 teaspoon salt
1. In a dutch oven, add milk. Turn on the heat to medium-high. Heat milk to a steamy, frothy, slight simmer. (Hipsters: Take it to just past the latte-frothy stage.) Stir occasionally to keep the milk from scalding the bottom of the pan. If it starts to boil, remove from the heat. I’ve read recipes that give specific temperatures, like 180 - 200 degrees, but I’ve never used a thermometer for this recipe. When you start to see foam around the edge of the pan and bubbles, then it’s probably good enough.
2. Remove dutch oven from burner. Add vinegar and salt, and stir. I use any white vinegar, like white wine vinegar, white balsamic, and even plain, old white distilled. All have worked just fine.
3.The milk should curdle almost instantly, and you’ll see the curds separate from the whey, a cloudy, yellowish liquid. Cover the dutch oven with a clean dish towel, and let set on the stove for about one-and-a-half to two hours.
4. Now, you can get fancy and buy some cheesecloth to separate the curds and whey, but I just use a fine mesh sieve. I set my sieve over a large bowl and dump the contents into it. The whey easily filters through, and I’m left with the curds. I gently press out any extra liquid with my wooden spoon. And Bah-Bam! You’ve got ricotta.
5. Scoop out the ricotta from the sieve and use immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days.
I have found that this is enough ricotta to make about 16 cheese-only stuffed shells or one 9x13 lasagna. If you make this, leave and comment below or hit me up on Facebook, and let me know how you used your ricotta.
Corinne Gompf is a writer and hobby farmer in Morrow County, Ohio. She is a graduate from the University of Toledo, with a BA in English, creative writing concentration. Along with her husband, Matt, and two children, Fletcher and Emery, Corinne raises poultry, Boer goats, rabbits, and chemical-free produce. Connect with Corinne on her Heritage Harvest Farm Facebook page.
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