Martha Stewart Makes Fresh Ricotta With 4 Basic Ingredients

Close up of Martha Stewart
Close up of Martha Stewart - Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Ricotta is essential if you are making Italian favorites like lasagna, stuffed shells, pizza, or cannolis; however, if you don't have a container from the store in your fridge, no problem. Martha Stewart says you can make homemade ricotta cheese using just four basic ingredients. Ricotta cheese is comprised of milk and whey, which is also known as the cloudy, watery liquid that is leftover after you curdle and strain milk. It's also easy to make. In fact, Stewart revealed that to craft this cheesy ingredient, you only need to have organic whole milk, organic heavy cream, salt, and lemon juice in your pantry and fridge.

To make your ricotta, the media mogul explained that the first thing you do is heat your whole milk, heavy cream and salt until it is nice and warm, topping your cooking thermometer off at 195 F. Then, add some lemon juice and remove from the stove. This acidic citrus works as a coagulant that transforms your milk into curds (though you can also substitute white vinegar if you don't have lemons). Once the mixture looks like a soupy cottage cheese, Stewart strains it, pouring it into a cheesecloth stretched over a bowl. The cheesecloth catches the creamy, white curds while all of that whey collects at the bottom of the bowl.

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Troubleshooting Your Ricotta Cheese

ricotta cheese
ricotta cheese - Mariha-kitchen/Getty Images

One of the added bonuses of making this cheese yourself: You have control over its taste and texture. These two characteristics are largely influenced by how long you let it drain. A longer drain makes for a dryer ricotta, while allowing it to retain some of the moisture creates a wet ricotta. Martha Stewart goes on to explain that you need to allow it to strain for at least 20 minutes. At this point it will still be "jiggly" and "dripping." If you want a denser ricotta, she suggests chilling it in the fridge for an hour and it will be drier and more solidified.

If you find that your ricotta isn't very fluffy, chances are you've used too much heavy cream. But before you throw the baby out with the bath, break out the mixer and make a whipped ricotta you can use as a spread for your toast. This will add some volume, creating that smooth creamy consistency you are hoping for. Once you've achieved your desired texture, you can use your ricotta right away or store it in the fridge. Ricotta goes bad rather quickly, so it is best to try and stick to making only what you are going to use.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.