Making Homemade Ricotta – Technique Tuesday

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

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If you have the basic kitchen supplies and a gallon of milk you can make homemade ricotta! And after experiencing this very basic chemistry-lab recipe, I have no idea why I waited so long to make this. All I can think of is the process scared me. If I only knew. I make Spanakopita weekly and the money I could have spared, making this cheese myself.

Not only the cost, but I didn’t mention the difference in the TASTE. It’s so mild and clean compared to the store-bought. Please don’t feel this is difficult. Think of all the health benefits of making it yourself. It’s fresh and no additives. Did I talk about the flavor? So mild and clean, you can add anything to it and make it your own. I like to serve it with a little salt and pepper with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

A few simple steps and you’re on your way to cheese-making in your home.
Before you begin make sure you buy the right milk. I had a carton of organic milk in the refrigerator, and did not notice it said Ultra-Pasterized (also do not use Ultra-Heated) and it didn’t work. It needs to be organic whole milk. Use homogenized and pasteurized milk in this recipe. A good brand to look for is Straus Family Milk, which can be found in many health food markets.

The only kitchen utensils you’ll need is a med-large pot, a thermometer, cheesecloth and a strainer or colander. The only ingredients: whole milk, white vinegar, salt, and lemons.
So let’s get started. Make sure you have all your mise-en-place ( ingredients in order)  before you begin your recipe. The process moves quickly and you need them at your fingertips.

Making Homemade Ricotta
 
Take the time and make this lovely-rich cheese and you will never go back! I promise you. It only takes ½ hour after you prep, and you have a fresh cheese for numerous meals.
Author:
Recipe type: Cheese
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice - about 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 gallon pasteurized whole milk - not ultrapasteurized or UHT
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. Line a colander with cheesecloth (2-3) layers and place in a clean sink.
  2. Combine the lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat milk and salt in a heavy bottom pot over medium-heat, stirring until 185 degrees is reached.
  4. Remove from the heat, and slowly stir in the vinegar mixture until thoroughly mixed and it begins to curdle around 15 seconds.
  5. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, until mixture is fully separated into solids and whey is clear.
  6. If the mixture has not curdled add an additional tablespoon, until separated.
  7. Gently pour into the colander.
  8. Let sit until whey has drained from the edges leaving the center moist.
  9. Place in a bowl and break up the curds and stir in the small amount of whey.
  10. Refrigerate ricotta until cold about 1-2 hours.
  11. Can be refrigerated up to 5 days.

cheesecloth for ricotta

Line your strainer with several layers of cheesecloth, and place in the sink.

cooking ricotta

Bring the milk to a slight boil until it reaches 185 degrees. Remove from the heat.
Add the lemon-vinegar slowly within 15 seconds and stir until fully incorporated.
Let the mixture sit for until curds to develop, around 5-10 minutes.

Homemade Ricotta

Gently pour into the strainer, and let if sit undisturbed for about 8-10 minutes.

Straining ricotta

When the sides dry out and it is slightly still moist in the center it’s ready to pour into the bowl.
Gather all ends of the cheesecloth, and let the whey drain and add cheese to the bowl.
Stir until cheese has small curds and smooth. The cheese will thickened when refrigerated. After making it a few times you can determine how thick you like it.

Ready to Strain ricotta

You do want to keep some of the whey, don’t squeeze it too tight.

Ricotta Ready!

And here you go, fresh homemade ricotta. Cover and place in the refrigerator to cool before using it. Stays fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Ricoota with EVOO

Delight!

Ricotta recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

© 2016 – 2017, Mary Papoulias-Platis. All rights reserved.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patti

I can’t believe how easy it is to make ricotta cheese. I have made creme fraiche and yogurt, but I have never attempted any real cheeses. This is amazing. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely be making some of this.

2 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Hi Patti, Sometimes, it’s just a matter of trying something new! This will always be a staple of mine – you can do so much with ricotta!

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