All things equal, this Homemade Ricotta Cheese, couldn’t be easier or more delicious. I will confess: I am not usually a fan of store-bought Ricotta cheese because of its grainy texture. However, I found myself eating this homemade version by the spoonful. I was actually amazed by the super creamy texture and it tastes absolutely delicious!
For me, homemade ricotta has a much better texture and flavor than anything I’ve ever bought at the grocery store. I believe that this is due in large part to the fact that it’s freshly made. I like that I can control just how wet or dry the ricotta is simply by how long I let it drain.
I use wetter, looser ricotta for recipes like pizza, baked spaghetti, ravioli, and the drier, firmer ricotta for desserts like cheesecake and cannoli. The absolute best ways to enjoy fresh ricotta is with fresh berries and honey or slathered on a savory toasted, garlic crostini. It’s amazing.
For a firmer cheese, wrap the drained ricotta in cheesecloth and press it beneath a weighted plate in the refrigerator overnight. This will make a simple paneer (Indian cheese), queso fresco (Mexican-style cheese), or fresh farmers cheese (Yum!).
PRO KITCHEN TIP: The process for making ricotta works best with whole milk, although I’ve had success with 2% as well. However, skim or nonfat milk will not work as there just isn’t enough milk fat in the milk to separate into curds and whey. Also avoid using ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, usually organic, as this process changes the protein structure of the milk and prevents it from separating.
When you make whole milk Ricotta cheese, you end up with a lot of whey leftover; that nutritious milky liquid left over from curdled milk after the curds are removed. But what can you do with it?
I wondered just this myself It just seemed very wasteful to throw it out. What I found was that whey contains the water-soluble proteins, vitamins, and minerals in the milk, so it’s a shame to pour it down the drain.
There are many things you can do with this leftover whey. It can be used to water plants, but because of the added vinegar only use it to water acid-loving plants, such as junipers or roses. You can use it for the liquid in pancakes, griddlecakes, muffins, bread, biscuits, cakes and cupcakes.
Save this Homemade Ricotta Cheese to your “Appetizer” or “cheese”, “Italian” or “Dessert” boards.
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Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese
- 6 cups whole milk [See Note 1]
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, vinegar and salt. Place the pan over a medium heat and slowly bring the milk mixture to a simmer. Simmer the milk mixture for 1 to 2 minutes, you will see curds begin to form.
- Line a mesh strainer with several layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently pour the curds and whey through into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze some of the excess liquid from the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a serving dish.
- This process for making ricotta works best with whole milk, although I've had success with 2% as well. However, skim or nonfat milk will not work as there just isn't enough milk fat in the milk to separate into curds and whey. Also avoid using ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, as this process changes the protein structure of the milk and prevents it from separating.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy, and is sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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