How to Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
I know what you are thinking, what? I can make my own homemade ricotta cheese? Well, yes! Now, I will not get on my soapbox and tell you this is authentic made ricotta cheese, but I will tell you that I have made it so many times, and it always tastes just like the ricotta cheese I get from the store!
Living in a small community far away from larger grocery stores can sometimes prove to be difficult when you are looking for ingredients that small stores often do not have. We are lucky to have a great little grocery store in our town, but some items are lacking. Ricotta cheese seems to be one of them.
I wish I could remember every time I was in the big city to get all the important things I need, but sometimes its hard to know or anticipate needing certain ingredients. With the rising cost of groceries it is painful to purchase such items(especially expensive ones), only to end up not using it and have it go bad.
This is where having a hack like making your own homemade ricotta cheese will come in handy!
Making homemade ricotta cheese is actually super easy! You just need to make it a couple of hours before you need it! I am often making mine right before I need it because, as I said, sometimes my planning isn’t that great haha.
Things to know about making homemade ricotta cheese:
- You cannot make ricotta cheese with ultra-pasteurized milk. Use one gallon of milk for this recipe. It will make about 2-3 cups of ricotta cheese.
- Use whole cow’s milk and add cream if you want the ricotta cheese to be creamier. You can also use goats milk as well as fresh milk. Fresh unpasteurized milk is ideal.
- Vinegar is what we use to make the milk curdle and turn into ricotta cheese. You can also lemon juice. You need a source of acidity to create the curds.
- DO NOT SCALD THE MILK. You want the milk to reach 185 degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, heat it over medium heat until it reaches the stage where there is a lot of steam, a slight film is forming over the top and tiny bubbles are forming close to the edge of the pot.
- Use layers of cheesecloth to drain your ricotta cheese curds.
- Use this homemade ricotta cheese to make your favorite pasta, lasagne, or even sweet desserts or lemon ricotta pancakes!
- I like to use a slotted spoon to remove the cheese curds from the pan.
- You can use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth-lined colander to drain your cheese. Make sure to use cheesecloth for both options.
- Use a large bowl under the strainer or colander to hold the whey that drains from the curds.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese Recipe
Make your own batch of homemade ricotta cheese to use for lasagnes, desserts, and more!
- 1 gallon whole milk do not use ultra pasteurized milk. I have found success with regular milk from the store however.
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup heavy cream optional
- 1/8 cup white vinegar may need more, but start with this much and we can add a bit more if needed.
In a large stainless steel pot, pour the entire gallon of whole milk and turn the heat on high.
Add your heavy cream(optional) and salt(this is optional, if you are using the ricotta for a dessert you do not need the salt)
Stir this mixture on the stove until it begins to heat up. Turn the heat to medium high and continue to heat the milk.
DO NOT SCALD THE MILK. You want to bring the milk right up to this point. You will begin to see some steam coming off the top of the milk. Use a thermometer to bring the milk to 186 degrees F.
Once it has reached this temperature, turn the heat to low(if using a gas stove. If using electric, move it to another burner and turn your original burner off) Add your vinegar and using a slotted spoon, stir the mixture together.
You will start to see the milk separating into curds and whey.
If after a few minutes it is nott completely separated(you will be able to tell because it will still be cloudy and milky. When it is done you will have an almost clearish liquid and the curds will be more solid.
Line a strainer with some cheesecloth. Place a bowl under the strainer as well and use your slotted spoon to scoop the curds into the cheesecloth. You can also pour the cheese, I like to wait until I have removed most of the solids. Occasionally drain the liquid from below the ricotta. You want to capture all the solids and drain out the liquids.
This may take some time, but I find once I get most of the liquid drained, hanging it from a cupboard handle or hook with a bowl below it will allow it to drain properly for another hour or two.
Once it has drained, you can store it in a airtight container in your fridge for up to 1 week or use it right away! We never have any in the fridge, it gets used right away!
This ricotta recipe will yield about 2-3 cups of ricotta cheese. Fresh ricotta is amazing and it can be used for so many great recipes.
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