Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- 2 cups reduced-fat (2%) buttermilk
- Deep-fry or candy thermometer
Stack 4 large squares of cheesecloth in colander, leaving overhang. Combine milk and buttermilk in heavy large pot. Attach deep-fry or candy thermometer to side of pot. Place pot over high heat. Stir almost constantly as mixture heats and curds (small clumps) begin to form. When thermometer registers 175°F to 180°F, curds will separate from whey (liquid) and float to top. Turn off heat.
Using large slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer curds to prepared colander. Gather cheesecloth around ricotta. Press gently, releasing some liquid (don't press out too much liquid or cheese may be dry). Return ball of cheese to colander and let rest 20 minutes. Transfer ricotta to medium bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt; mix gently. Cover; chill until cold, about 2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Nutritional ContentOne serving contains the following: Calories (kcal) 78.2 %Calories from Fat 41.4 Fat (g) 3.6 Saturated Fat (g) 2.1 Cholesterol (mg) 11.7 Carbohydrates (g) 6.8 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 6.8 Net Carbs (g) 6.8 Protein (g) 4.8Reviews Section
Homemade Ricotta Recipe [the Easy Way]
Homemade Ricotta is easier to make than you might think. If you’re used to buying it in the store, there are many reasons why making ricotta at home is a better option.
There are only three ingredients in this easy ricotta recipe. Milk, salt and lemon juice or vinegar. You can be sure there aren’t any additives, like store bought cheese.
It takes about an hour to make, but it’s not all hands-on, as you need to drain the cheese curds once they come out of the pan. If you have milk, you can have fresh ricotta. I’ve often found that the grocery doesn’t have ricotta when I need it. Plus it can be rather expensive.
For the price of a jug of milk, you can have a cup of ricotta to use for your recipe, or as an impromptu appetizer when guests come over.
Ricotta isn't considered a cheese in the conversational sense as it's made from whey, a byproduct of cheese production. Meaning "double cooked" in Italian, ricotta lives up to its name. Follow the steps below to give it a try at home. It's rather simple and not as laborious as you might think.
To prepare 9 ounces of ricotta at home you’ll need:
1 q. fresh milk
1 level tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the salt and lemon juice and stir with a wooden spoon. After some minutes the milk will begin to form curds. Turn off the heat and continue stirring. Pour the contents through a strainer and then place the contents remaining in the strainer into a special ricotta container. Place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
You can flavor your homemade ricotta with grated orange or lemon rind or herbs like basil and parsley. You can also add paprika or chili pepper to make it spice, serve it inside arugula leaves, or pair it with cherry tomatoes and fresh spring and summer salads.
A few ricotta recipes from our archives are below, while the above photo gallery contains some ricotta-making tips.
Put the milk into a medium-sized pot over low heat. In a separate bowl or container, dissolve the citric acid in the two tablespoons of water and then add that mixture to the milk. Add the salt to the other ingredients (the salt is a matter of flavor here, not something that is preserving the cheese, so up to you whether or not to include it). Add the cream, if using. Whisk to combine the ingredients well.
You will need a meat or cheese thermometer to get an accurate read on the temperature. Stir the milk mixture as it warms to prevent it from scorching on the bottom of the pot. At between 165 F to 190 F the milk will separate into curds and whey (whey is the liquid that separates from the curds, which are the dairy solids).
Once the curds have separated from the whey, turn off the heat and let the ingredients sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Line a colander with butter muslin or several layers of cheesecloth and place the lined colander in a large bowl. Pour the ricotta into the colander. Tie up the ends of the butter muslin or cheesecloth and then tie the bundle somewhere it can hang and drain for 30 minutes (Tip: Tie to your kitchen faucet). Don't throw out the whey - you can refrigerate it and use it to make lacto-fermented recipes such as apple chutney.
After half an hour, untie the butter muslin or cheesecloth bundle and transfer the ricotta to a food storage container. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Homemade ricotta will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.
Yummy Yummy. This my first time making this. Its turned out amazing
Outstanding! I didn't have enough whole milk and so supplemented with 1 cup of heavy cream, which really took it to new heights. Skimmed as instructed, but then also slowly poured the whey over the cheesecloth to get every curd. Squeezed out just enough of the water to form a ball and it turned out super creamy and moist. Salted it lightly and good to go. Only change is to use smaller mesh cheese cloth. Large mesh, despite four layers lost a lot of the cheese between the layers.
In an answer to- Skim? Tried to sub skim milk and evaporated skim & lemon juice to avoid a trip to the store, looking at a Food Network recipe as well. Something went wrong - slight beige tone from the evaporated milk, drier that I would have liked. Will try again as recommended by epicurious.
This recipe turned out fine, but the flavor in this other recipe for 'rich ricotta' (http://goo.gl/VZztE) was much bolder and more satisfying. If you're just going to make one, I recommend starting with the rich ricotta.
Has anyone tried this with skim milk?
A wonderful recipe. I appreciated the specific instructions for temperature and curdling. The reviewers are right about not squeezing out too much liquid. This turned out great, I did not salt it very heavily--wonderful, fresh flavor.
I registered with this site just so I could review this recipe. It is delicious and so easy! I decided to try it after reading the label on the only two brands of ricotta available at my local groceries--there are all kinds of fillers and unpronouncable things in there. This is tastier, healthier, and a little bit cheaper than buying premade. I've kept the whey and will try using it to make oatmeal or cream of wheat. Any other ideas on what to do with it would be welcome.
Looking forward to making this.I found the nutritional info but no serving size. Anyone have a guess?
Delicious! I will never buy store bought ricotta again if I have the time to make this!
I made it exactly as written, turned out really well. www.EntertainingRecipes.org
Excellent ricotta. easier and quicker than other recipes. Don't drain much, it does get too firm. Michigan cook
This was so easy to make, I don't even own a thermometer and it still worked. It's so good, light and will be something I make frequently.
Easy to make and a big hit with my Easter dinner guests. I made this to go with the rhubarb crostini. Don't be too agressive with squeezing out the liquid it does become dry.
Fill a pot with the milk. Stir in salt, if using. Heat over medium heat until milk registers 185°F (85°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Add vinegar or lemon juice and stir briefly to incorporate. Curds should begin forming almost immediately stop stirring as soon as they've formed throughout the pot.
Without stirring, continue to hold curdled-milk mixture at 185°F for 20 minutes. It's okay if the temperature fluctuates down to 175°F (79°C) or up to 190°F (88°C), but try to keep it in that zone for the full 20 minutes.
Line a fine-mesh strainer with paper towels or cheesecloth. Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds to strainer and let stand until excess liquid has drained away. Exactly how long to let it drain depends on whether you want a moister final product or a drier one. Do not try to pour all the milky liquid through the strainer, as this will clog it and prevent the liquid from flowing through.
Drained ricotta can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days, though it is best when freshly made.
An easy homemade ricotta recipe
- 1 bag (5 ½ cups) of whole or 2 percent milk
- 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp of salt
- Mix milk with cream, if using, in a saucepan. Add salt.
- Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to keep milk from burning.
- Once it hits a boil, turn off heat and thoroughly stir in lemon juice. Let sit for two minutes, and stir again for another two minutes the milk should separate into thick, soft curds.
- Line a sieve with cheesecloth and put over a bowl. Using a slotted spoon, strain out curds out of the saucepan into the sieve, and leave to drain: 20 minutes for “wet” ricotta, 30 minutes to an hour for a thick, denser cheese.
- Discard leftover liquid, transfer ricotta to a container and refrigerate immediately.
Looking for ideas for what to do with all that ricotta now you’ve made it? Get our recipe for Lidia’s penne with ricotta and mushrooms here, or try our classic lasagna recipe, or these protein-packed ricotta oat-bran pancakes.
Classic Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese
This make ahead overnight lasagna with ricotta cheese is made easy with a few shortcuts.
- 2 pounds ground chuck, browned and drained
- 2 (24 ounce) jars prepared pasta sauce or 6 cups homemade pasta sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or an equal blend of dried basil, dried oregano, and thyme leaves)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked lasagna noodles
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet, combine pasta sauce and browned ground chuck. Bring to a simmer and heat through.
3. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Stir together well.
4. Pour approximately 1 cup of meat sauce into baking dish. Add water and combine with a spoon or fork.
5. Add a layer of lasagna noodles. Do not overlap as the noodles will expand overnight.
6. Add rounded spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture over the noodles and spread evenly.
7. Sprinkle about ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese over the ricotta layer. Top with about 1 cup of meat sauce. Begin a new layer of noodles and repeat as above, ending with remaining meat sauce. Save any remaining mozzarella cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
8. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
9. Place the covered casserole in a cold oven. Set oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and top with remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered for an additional 15 to 25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the edges are bubbly.
10. Allow the lasagna to rest for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting and serving.
This recipe uses uncooked, regular lasagna noodle but requires refrigeration overnight. If baking immediately, lasagna noodles should be cooked according to package directions prior to assembling the lasagna.
Cut enough cheesecloth to drape over the top of the colander, with plenty hanging over the sides.
Rinse the cheesecloth in water and squeeze out excess water.
Fold the cheesecloth into two layers that completely cover the colander. Set the colander in the sink.
Pour the whole milk and the buttermilk into a pot over medium heat. The temperature should not be so high that the milk ever reaches a boil. For the first 5 minutes as the milk warms, stir frequently to prevent the milk from burning to the bottom of the pot.
After 5 minutes, use the thermometer to test the milk temperature. When it is around 100 F, stop stirring the milk and let it continue to warm undisturbed. You will start to notice that the milk is thickening on the surface. This is the curds forming.
When the milk temperature reaches 175 F, turn off the heat. Let the milk sit for 5 minutes. Do not stir.
Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, gently scoop the curds out of the pot and into the cheesecloth-draped colander.
Let the curds drain in the colander for 5 to 10 minutes.
Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and tie at the top with a rubber band. Hang the bundle of curds so more moisture will drip out. You can hang the bundle from your faucet, or set a ladle handle across the top of a pot and hang the bundle from the ladle handle. Let the cheese drain for at least 30 minutes.
This recipe should begin after the draining step in either of the above recipes.
Let drain for an extended period of 24-36 hours
After the first 6-8 hours place a weight on top of the cheese, 2-4 lbs should be enough.
After draining, de-mold the Ricotta onto a plate or bowl that will catch extra whey. Every other day for at least the first week sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of salt over the cheese, rubbing over the outside of the cheese, then cover the top with plastic returning it to the refrigerator.
Pour off any whey that weeps out of the salted cheese.
As the cheese starts to firm up and lose less whey you can salt less often until it is pretty firm, at least a week and a half if not two or three.
The final cheese can be anywhere from a firm table cheese after 4-6 weeks or a very dry grating cheese after several months.
Keep the mold under control by wiping with a light brine as it appears
Fall in Love with Ricotta
I fell in love with Ricotta after attending a workshop with Giuseppe Licitra, President of the Consorzio Ricerca Filira Lattiero-Casearia (CoRFiLaC) in Ragusa, Sicily. During this workshop we watched as they broke the curd for Ragusano cheese with a big stick (and none to kindly at that).
As it turns out their intent is to drive out as much as 30% of the butterfat into the whey to be made into the richest tasting Ricotta I have ever tasted. The background behind this is that the final cheese (Ragusano) would not produce income for many months or years.
The Ricotta that could be produced could be immediately sold thus producing an income for the farms within a few days.
What is Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta has been a traditional cheese of Italy for many centuries. It was originally a means to strip proteins from the whey following the primary cheese making process. Proteins that would have otherwise been lost in the whey.
This was especially true in some of the longer aged 'Pasta Filata' styles (stretched cheese) such as Caciocavallo or Provolone and even in Parma style cheese where
Ricotta is a heat and acid precipitated cheese that can be made from whole or skim milk. When made from a mixture of milk and whey it is called Ricotone. Raw milk can be used for the production of ricotta cheese since the heat treatment during curd formation more than meets the heat requirements for pasteurization.
In the first step of the process either a live culture or an acid is added to the milk to lower the pH to 5.9-6.0. The mixture is then heated to 176-185F, for 15-30 minutes.
This heat treatment, combined with the effect of the acid causes the precipitation of the curd. Exposure to such a high heat results in denaturation of some of the whey proteins that would normally be lost with the whey. The resulting curd is composed of both casein and whey proteins, unlike a conventional curd which is almost all casein. The ricotta curd also differ from a conventional rennet/acid curd in that the ricotta curd is loosely bound and entraps air. This results in a curd that will float on the top of the cheese vat. Proper control of the pH and the level of agitation are necessary to ensure that the curd floats and does not sink. The collected curds are allowed to drain for 4-6 hours in a cool room and then ready for consumption.
Ricotone and Ricotta cheese are very high in moisture and contain most of the lactose from the milk. Therefore, the keeping quality is not very good. It may last 10 days at best.