Mild, fresh and dreamy creamy.
Homemade ricotta is impressively gourmet yet a breeze to make. Who knew? You will after reading this post!
Ricotta cheese is traditionally produced by Italian cheese makers using whey leftover from the production of other cheeses. Since most of us are not Italian cheese makers, we’ll start our ricotta with milk.
Ricotta cheese can be made with cow, goat, sheep or water buffalo milk. Cow’s milk is most readily available here in the States so that’s what we’ll use for this recipe. Should you come across any of the aforementioned varieties of milk, I encourage you to experiment.
5 Reasons to Make and Love Ricotta Cheese
- Ricotta cheese has a delightfully creamy, rich, lightly sweet flavor. It’s texture is fluffy with a velvety mouth feel. Yum, yummy, yummers!
- Making ricotta only requires five simple ingredients and a few pieces of equipment you probably already have on hand.
- The process of making ricotta is easy and relatively quick (for cheese making). The majority of the time it takes to make ricotta is resting time.
- Ricotta cheese is extremely versatile and luxurious. There are countless ways to enjoy it or incorporate it into other recipes.
- The leftover whey from production is also extremely versatile and healthful.
Resources On Ways to Use Whey
My Two Favorite Recipes For Enjoying Copious Amounts of Ricotta Cheese
- Cut a baguette or artisanal country bread of your choice into crostini (individual pieces). Lightly toast crostini in a 425 degree oven. Remove crostini from the oven and while they are still warm, rub each piece lightly with a peeled clove of garlic. Top each piece with a generous portion of room temperature ricotta, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, flaked sea salt and freshly cracked pink peppercorns.
- Cut a baguette or artisanal country bread of your choice into crostini (individual pieces). Lightly toast crostini in a 425 degree oven. Remove the crostini from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Top each crostini with a generous amount of room temperature ricotta cheese, chopped toasted nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts or pine nuts) and a few fresh thyme leaves. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.
Additional Ideas on Using Ricotta Cheese
- Stuffed Shells
- Various crostini
- As a dip with fresh herbs
- Ricotta stuffed fresh figs
- Along side seasonal fruit with honey
- Use your imagination and the possibilities are endless.
What are you waiting for? Jump in and make a batch of ricotta cheese. In no time, you’ll be wowing friends and family with your very own gourmet, homemade ricotta cheese.
- 1 gallon whole milk (preferably organic, grass-fed)
- 2 cups heavy cream (preferably organic, grass-fed)
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar (plus 1-2 tablespoons if needed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- Add both the milk and cream to a large non-reactive pot.
- Set the pot over med-high heat and bring to 185 degrees using and instant read or clip on thermometer (clipped to the side of the pot, slightly submerged into the milk). If you don't have a thermometer, you can eye ball it but the results might be less accurate. The dairy will start to form bubbles, a little foam on the surface and will let off steam when ready. Lightly stir regularly to avoid scorching on the bottom of the pot. Do not boil.
- When the dairy comes to temperature remove the pot from the heat, add vinegar, lemon juice and salt. Stir until fully incorporated.
- Cover the pot with a kitchen towel, set aside for 30 minutes undisturbed to allow the curds to form. If after 30 minutes the curds do not fully separate, add another tablespoon of vinegar and allow to sit for an additional 3-5 minutes.
- While the dairy is resting, place a colander or sieve in the sink or in a large bowl to drain the whey from the curds. Line the entire colander with several layers of cheese cloth or 1-2 layers of butter muslin (butter muslin has a tighter weave so you don't need to use as much. You can find it on Amazon or cheesemaking.com).
- Once the curds have fully formed, using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the curds from the pot to the prepared colander. Let sit undisturbed to drain the whey from the curds for 10-30 minutes (depending on whether you want soft or firm cheese). The edges of the cheese should look dry and the middle should be moist and a little soupy. This will yield a creamy ricotta, if you prefer firmer ricotta, drain closer to the thirty minute mark.
- Gently transfer the ricotta to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Stir lightly before use.
*Ricotta is best when fresh but will keep for up to five days. Ricotta can be enjoyed cold, cool, room temperature or baked.
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