The recipe is very quick and cheap to make, but as there are no preservatives it will only keep a day or two in fridge.
- 4 pints 2% milk;
- 2-4 tablespoons lemon juice or white vinegar.
Bring the milk to just to below boiling point, so that little bubbles are around all the edge but not a rolling boil.
Add the lemon juice or vinegar. Wait until curds form — this will happen quite quickly. Strain the curds through cheesecloth. When finished draining, squeeze the curds and wrap the cheesecloth fairly tightly around them. Put it in the fridge with a plate on top and a tin on top of that, to weigh it down. After about an hour it will be ready to use. You may now add salt if you wish.
Note that the liquid that you drained off is actually "whey", and had many uses in traditional British cooking. It is nutritious drunk as-is, and has been found to stimulate production of insulin in type-2 diabetics. Interestingly, whey is the actual start point for making real ricotta!
"Ricotta", you see, simply means "re-cooked", referring to the fact that the milk is cooked once to separate the curds (mostly casein) from the whey, and then again to separate out the ricotta (mostly albumin and globulin) from the remaining liquid. Without further ado, here's how to do it.
Allow the whey to become more acidic by fermentation, by letting it sit for 12–24 hours at room temperature. Now heat the acidified whey to near boiling point. The combination of low pH and high temperature denatures the remaining protein and causes it to precipitate out, forming a fine curd. Once cooled, separate the curd by passing it through a fine cloth — your cheesecloth will probably do, but a piece of muslin might be better. I don't have times or quantities for this part of the process, so experimentation is the order of the day!