Making ricotta at home is simpler than you think; the easy method detailed here produces the sweet, earthy flavor of old-world cheese by combining whole milk with rennet, which consists of enzymes that act as a coagulant. This recipe makes 4½ cups of ricotta.
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1. Heat 1 gallon whole milk and ¾ cup heavy cream over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and taking care not to scorch the milk, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the milk reads 200°. Skim foam from surface of milk. Pour milk into another pot to facilitate cooling. Add 2 tsp. kosher salt to milk; stir to dissolve. James Oseland 2. Carefully nestle pot in a bowl of ice water and stir to bring the temperature down. James Oseland 3. Let milk cool to 125°F. James Oseland 4. Mix 1 tsp. liquid animal rennet with ¼ cup cold water in a bowl. James Oseland 5. Stir into the milk. Let stand undisturbed until the milk has visibly thickened, about 10 minutes. With a wooden spoon, cut a large X in the coagulated surface of the milk. Stir quickly for 15 to 20 seconds to break up the solids. James Oseland 6. Using a fine sieve, slowly stir milk in one direction around edge of pot, so that the curds begin to separate from the whey. Continue to stir gently until you have gathered a large mass of curds. James Oseland 7. Gently scoop curds, in batches, into 2 disposable ricotta molds or into a cheesecloth-lined colander set over a sheet tray. James Oseland 8. Allow excess whey to drain from ricotta for 1 hour. James Oseland 9. Use cheese immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days. James Oseland