One of the wonderful things about living in China that is also one of the trying things about living in China is the lack of cheese. They don't eat it here and so anything we find is imported and thus expensive... and the options are limited. So delights like fresh mozzarella and ricotta, or varieties of blue and feta are not readily, and some of them never, available.
But the more I learn from others and from some of my reading, the more I would love to make my own cheese anyway! Many kinds require rennet (the lining of a cow's stomach... who comes up with this stuff?) and milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized-- more items that are hard to get here. But Ricotta does not require either of these things and is pretty easy for a first timer.
The recipe is simple. You can also find a similar one here.
I used: one gallon of milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3+ cups of distilled white vinegar
nylon stockings (never worn... just so you know)
Heat the milk to about 180-185 degrees, near scalding temperature, just before it comes to a boil (use a thermometer if you can). When it reaches that temp, turn off the burner and add vinegar, stirring for one minute. Add the salt. Curds will form. Cover with a dry clean dish towel and let it sit undisturbed for a couple hours.
Ladle out the ricotta curds into cheesecloth lined colander, or stockings if you don't have cheesecloth! Let the colander rest inside a large bowl to allow draining. Let drain for two hours or so.
And oala! you have ricotta. Place in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to about seven days.
Make sure to use whole milk. You can vary the salt amount depending on what you are using it for and your taste. I think I would add a little more next time.
Now for some ricotta recipes. It's been so long since I've used it that I forget what to make with it! You all did great with suggestions for salads... any ideas for ricotta? And I'm keen to learn some more cheeses so let's hope there's more of this in the future.