How to make Ricotta Cheese

By Christina Collins

Ricotta

Let’s make cheese!

Ummm…it’s really easy! Literally, anyone can make ricotta. You need only a few basic ingredients and a couple common kitchen supplies.

Making ricotta cheese from scratch is new to me. For years I was a Polly-o girl. Then I became a Calabro fan. But now, after seeing it continually pop up in Ina Garten’s cook books and finally trying it myself, I can’t imagine EVER buying pre-made ricotta cheese again. First and foremost, I love the consistency and the rich creaminess. The bonus is that it’s less expensive than buying a lesser quality pre-made, and I produce no waste from the commonly seen plastic tub it is sold in. What is better than that?

And lets face it- it’s pretty cool to be able to say you made your own ricotta cheese.

INGREDIENTS:

EQUIPMENT:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • White wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • Kosher salt
  • A basic sieve
  • Cheese cloth

*IMPORTANT NOTE: The milk and cream must NOT be Ultra- Pasteurized. The process of ultra pasteurization kills off the enzymes required for it to turn into cheese! (Trust me on this… I learned the hard way!) You will end up with a pot of hot dairy and nothing more.

Ricotta is an incredibly flexible ingredient. My absolute favorite way to use homemade ricotta is to make classic cheese raviolis, because, well, I am obsessed with making raviolis. This ricotta is so light, and I roll fresh pasta that is oh, so thin! The end result is like eating delicious, Italian air. It will also transform spaghetti and meatballs just by adding a dollop of ricotta in place of parmesan giving it a creamy, indulgent richness. Another favorite of mine is to serve it simply with crostini toast. Or, make fig ricotta cake, or ricotta pancakes, or scrambled eggs with a touch of ricotta. Or…just do as I do and grab a spoon and eat it right out of the bowl and hope no one catches you 😉

Bowl of ricotta cheese

Ricotta Cheese

Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Course cheese, condiment
Cuisine Italian

Equipment

  • Sieve
  • Cheesecloth

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups whole milk (not ultra- pasteurized!)
  • 2 cups heavy cream (not ultra- pasteurized!)
  • 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar (MUST be fresh!) Lemon juice works too!

Instructions
 

  • Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.
  • Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. DO NOT WALK AWAY from the stove top.
  • Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar or lemon juice. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. (Add more if you do not see it start to separate.) It will separate into (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
  • Carefully pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I like mine thick.) You can even bundle it and give it a gentle squeeze to remove even more moisture.
  • Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for at least 3 days.

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