In my opinion, homemade food trumps packaged and frozen every time, and homemade food made with homemade ingredients is even better. Stock up on homemade staples with The Homemade Pantry from Alana Chernila!

Imagine mixing this ricotta into a savory Italian dinner or a sweet dessert.


makes about ¾ pound (1½ cups)

  • ½ gallon whole milk

  • ¹?³ cup fresh lemon juice (from 1½ to 2 lemons)

  • Optional: ½ cup heavy cream

  • Optional:  salt (kosher or sea) to taste

1. Ice a large, heavy pot.  Add the milk and the lemon juice, and cream, if using, to the pot and stir without touching the bottom of the pot for 5 seconds.

2. Place the pot over low heat and attach a candy or cheese thermometer to the inside of the pot. Heat the milk mixture to 175°F. This should take 40 to 50 minutes, and you can stir once or twice over the course of this time.

3. Raise the heat to medium-high, and without stirring, watch the pot until the temperature reads 205°F, 3 to 5 minutes. The surface of the milk will look like it is about to erupt, but it shouldn’t boil. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Now you have curds and whey.

4. Lay a fine-meshed sieve over a large bowl or jar and line it with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Using a large slotted spoon, scoop the curds into the cheesecloth. Let the cheese drain for 10 minutes, and if you like, sprinkle salt over the top of the curds.


Fridge: covered container, 3 to 5 days

Freezer: no

Reprinted from the book The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. Copyright © 2012 by Alana Chernila. Photographs copyright © 2012 by Jennifer May. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. Read our review of this book.

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