In the world of food craft, cheesemaking is an art. For many types of cheese it takes just the right setting: temperature, humidity, etc. Then there’s the aging and the waiting and waiting and waiting. But there are many types that can easily be made at home in very little time at all.
Here’s a recipe for making homemade ricotta that will turn you into a cheesemaking artisan in no time at all.
Until I made ricotta at home, I thought I didn’t like it. I found store-bought ricotta to be pasty, grainy and flavorless. The ricotta I make at home is rich, creamy and smooth — the perfect accompaniment to thick, crusty and craggy bread.
What is ricotta cheese?
Ricotta is a cheese made from whey, which is a byproduct of cheese making. Sheep or cow milk whey is most common. (I used whole milk and heavy cream, which explains why my version is so much creamier than what I’m accustomed to from the store.)
The process for making ricotta is very simple.
- Heat milk and cream together until the mixture comes to a rumbling boil.
- Turn off the heat and add an acid, like lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk.
- Within a minute or so the curds will separate from the whey.
- Strain out the whey (for about 20 minutes), leaving soft curds in the cheesecloth.
That’s it! Read on for the full step-by-step recipe
Homemade ricotta cheese recipe
Recipe adapted from Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a large, heavy stockpot, combine the milk and cream. Set over medium heat. Warm the milk and cream just to a gentle boil and then immediately turn off the heat.
Add the lemon juice and give the whole pot a soft stir. The curds will begin to form immediately, and you don’t want to disturb them too much with the stirring.
Let the pot sit undisturbed for 1-2 minutes. At this point you should see the curds and whey separating.
Line a sieve or sifter with two layers of cheesecloth and set this over a large bowl.
Pour the milk and cream onto the sieve and allow the whey to drain until the ricotta has reached the consistency you like. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
Place the ricotta in a bowl and stir in the salt.
If you aren’t using the ricotta right away just cover it and place in the fridge. It will keep for one week in the fridge.
Now, what can you do with ricotta cheese?
Well, my favorite is to simply slather it on bread with a bit of olive oil and salt. Or with jam for breakfast. The recipe above makes quite a bit of ricotta, so there is sure to be some leftover so you can make any number of these recipes:
- Ricotta pancakes perhaps? They are so fluffy!
- Or how about soft, pillowy ricotta gnocchi?
- Feeling pretty confident in your cheese making abilities? Take it a step further and make some ricotta salata.
- Still a little timid to make cheese? This class is sure to give you a confidence boost.