I recently discovered how cost affective it was to make your own ricotta cheese rather than buy it! It was incredibly easy and you don't need anything special to make it, just basic ingredients!
What you need
1 Gallon of milk (NOT ultra pasteurized) I've found that Kirkland brand works well.
6 Tbs. Vinegar (or lemon juice but I have not tried lemon juice personally.)
1-2 tsp salt depending on taste.
Plain old colander
1 pan of Chocolate Peanut Butter bars (optional but highly recommended)
This can also be halved. I used half a gallon of milk and 3 Tbs. of vinegar the first time and it worked beautifully
How you do it
In a heavy bottomed pan pour in milk
Turn to medium heat, if you have a thermometer plop it on in there now. You want it to reach about 180-185 degrees or right before boiling, a soft simmer.
While waiting eat a Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar, or two or three. Oh and stir occasionally so as not to scorch your milk.
In the mean time place cheese cloth, 4 layers thick, in colander. I forgot to take a picture but you get the idea.Once milk reaches desired temperature remove from heat and stir in vinegar.
Stir for a few minutes, you should see it curdling almost right away.
Scoop into cheese cloth lined colander with slotted spoon until all of curdles are in cloth. You can drain the water over after into another pan to use for boiling noodles.
Once all curds are in wrap up and hang. I hang mine from the faucet.
For more creamy ricotta only hang for a minute or for a firm crumbly ricotta for 5-10 minutes.
And there you have it, fresh, homemade, cheap, ricotta! You can refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or use right away. Recipe for the Manicotti that this beautiful batch went into coming soon! Happy cheese making!