Saving money is where it’s at, right? All easier said than done for me, but here is one little item that was surprisingly easy.
Let’s talk cheese. I love cheese. Lots of cheese. I wear the server out if we go to Olive Garden having them put cheese on all my food. It may be the downfall of any diet I ever decide to do. After all, the perfect bedtime snack is two slices of American cheese. I also have a special place in my tummy for ricotta cheese. Particularly large with amounts in lasagna.
Have you seen the prices of ricotta lately? Depending on the brand, $5 to $8 are the ranges in price for a 32 oz container, about the size needed for a pan of lasagna. What if I told you that you can make it for around the price of a gallon of milk or less? All you need is some time, around a half-hour, half a gallon of milk and you have fresh ricotta.
I am not going to post the recipe, I will post a link to the recipe I used at the bottom of this post. I find righting recipes cumbersome and better left to others. I will tell you about my experience using the recipe, which can always be an adventure!
I made two batches of the recipe. I learned a few things along the way.
I started with whole milk. You need to have milk with some fat in it. This is not a recipe that you will use skim or even 2%. Fat is where it is at.
When you follow the recipe in the link, make sure not to boil your milk. You will want to use a thermometer. Trust me, a small investment in a thermometer goes a long way in the kitchen. I did buy my thermometer from Amazon here as a Christmas present to myself. (affiliate link) You want your milk to reach around 185°F.
Here is the important thing I learned. I added my lemon juice from a bottle of squeezed juice. The bottled juice is great for making mixed drinks but I am not sure about making ricotta. You need an acid to help produce the curds in ricotta.
I was not thinking when I did my first batch. I added the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice as directed. My milk started to form a bit of curd, but not as much as there should have been. You will see lumps, curds form and a clear liquid start to separate. That clear liquid is called whey. I wasted close to a half gallon before a bit of research led me to realize that my lemon juice was not acidic enough!
I tried a second batch. This time I added a bit more lemon juice. More curds started to form but still, not as much as they should have been. I added more lemon juice. That did the trick. What I realized is my lemon juice was not that acidic maybe from sitting in the fridge too long. In the end, being I had to double the amount of lemon juice usually used in the recipe, it had a slight lemon taste to the finished product. We aren’t talking lemon pie, pucker your mouth strong, but it was distinctive when eating alone.
The wonderful thing was I had the amount needed to make my lasagna after my learning curve. Even with the messing up, the ricotta was delicious. Creamy and fresh tasting. I baked that lasagna, took a few bits and you couldn’t taste the lemon a bit.
I also have learned about cheesecloth. Dan never realizes what cheesecloth is for and ends up either throwing it away or putting it in some obscure place. Some dark corner, looking like a mummy lost part of its uniform. Cheesecloth has its place, but I have learned that mesh laundry bags (affiliate link) folded over a few times, clean of course, work remarkably well for things such as draining the curds. Easy to wash and not as fragile as I find cheesecloth to be. Here are the mesh bags that can be used for laundry or for cheesecloth on Amazon. (affiliate link)
One last tip. When you are draining your curds into a colander (affiliate link) as the recipe calls for, spoon it out with a slotted spoon. (affiliate link) I found when I poured the ricotta out, for some reason, the water didn’t drain well. It drained perfectly when I scooped out the ricotta.
Let’s break this down a bit. A 32 oz container of ricotta cheese costs at least $5. For around a half-hour of time, knowing what is in my food, with my learning curve and wasting some, I made ricotta for around $2.89. If you add in the lemon juice at $1.19 for an entire bottle and make a vodka sour to go with the lasagna, the final cost is still lower. I will still say that for around $3 for the finished product of ricotta. Try it on naan bread for an easy homemade pizza. Also here is a link to my brother’s site. He specializes in low sodium recipes and has one for naan bread! Go check him out!
That may not seem like a lot, but it does add up. If I find ways of cutting costs like that over a year it adds up. Plus I can read all the ingredients that are in my food.
If you are interested in making your own ricotta here is a link to the recipe from the She Loves Biscotti website. Happy cooking!
Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.