How many of you have always wanted to try to make your very own Creamy Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese? Well, today is the day! Are you excited? I sure am! I can’t wait to share this recipe with you!
(Scroll to the bottom for a Creamy Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese video recipe!)
Who doesn’t like ricotta? Its creamy texture lends itself perfectly to sweet foods like cannoli, cheesecake or homemade cheese blintzes. The taste and texture is equally appreciated in savory dishes, whether layered in lasagna, used as a stuffing for cannelloni or to top your favorite pizza. One of my favorite “quick” recipes to make with ricotta are these ricotta stuffed medjool dates.
In just under one hour, you can be spreading some creamy ricotta on a toasted baguette with a drizzle of honey. Life doesn’t get any better than this, my friends!
So…are you ready to begin? If you’re like me, you probably need to go shopping to get a couple of the ingredients. Since I only use 1% milk at home, I need to purchase full fat (3.25%) milk. Since we are discussing the shopping list, you also need to have a cheesecloth or some sort of ricotta basket. The objective is not to lose any of the curds when you you drain your freshly made ricotta. I will reuse the plastic containers from the times that I purchase ricotta; they are reusable and obviously more economical than the cheesecloth, which can only be used once.
This Creamy Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese requires a source of acidity in order for the curds to form. I usually use lemon juice or white vinegar. The results with the lemon juice can vary since it depends on the acidity of the lemon. Don’t hesitate to add a few more tablespoons of lemon juice if your milk does not curdle immediately. Lemon juice is definitely my preference when I am making, say, these Easy Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Italian Sweet Ricotta Easter Pie, or even this Rice Ricotta Easter Pie…can you tell I just love ricotta! I use white vinegar when I will use the ricotta for savory dishes like a pizza, lasagna, pastas, or these spinach calzones.
Before you begin, line a large colander with a large piece of lightly dampened cheesecloth that has been folded over itself at least 3-4 times. Place the colander over a bowl. Make sure to use non-reactive materials. Alternatively, you can use a recycled ricotta basket.
You are now ready to combine two of the ingredients (milk and salt) in a large heavy based saucepan. Over medium heat, heat the milk to 185 F, making sure to give the mixture an occasional stir with a wooden spoon. If you do not have a thermometer, heat the milk until it reaches a stage where there is a lot of steam, where little bubbles are forming close to the edge of the pot, and a slight film appears over the milk. It takes about 20 minutes to get to this stage at medium heat.
Reduce the heat to low and add your source of acid (I used lemon juice). You will notice that the mixture will immediately begin to curdle…continue to gently stir the mixture about for 2 minutes. Isn’t it amazing that in just a few minutes, you will begin to notice the formation of curds? You are well on your way!
Carefully remove your soon-to-be creamy homemade fresh ricotta cheese from the heat. Let it stand, covered for about 20 minutes. Carefully ladle your ricotta into the cheesecloth lined colander or your basket. Your bowl will be filled with a liquid, which, as you know, is the whey. Since we are talking about whey, I would like to clarify that true ricotta is made from the leftover whey of cheese production. Hence the name “ricotta”, which literally means “recooked”.
At this point you have a decision to make. The consistency of the final product will depend on the amount of time you leave the mixture to drain. If you are planning to make a cheesecake or stuffed pasta, you need a firmer consistency – therefore you need to drain for at least 20 minutes. If you are using it as a spread (for example on a baguette), 3-5 minutes is more than enough time to obtain that creamy consistency. What will you make?
Origins of the recipe for Creamy Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese:
As I was “growing up”, I thought it was normal for families to make their own wine, their own sausages, cheese, prosciutto, tomato sauce, pickled vegetables, jams, jellies, pasta, bread…I could go on, but you get my point. Imagine my surprise when I realized not everyone had homemade sopressata hanging in their kitchen! I realize now that I was truly privileged to have been exposed to so much passion when it came to food. When I think back to my grand-parents and my parents (and to a whole generation of immigrants), I am always impressed by how food helped preserve their identity.
Food was meant to be enjoyed and to be shared with family and friends. I hope you enjoy this ricotta in your favorite meals.
With just 3 ingredients, you can make this creamy homemade fresh ricotta cheese. It’s easy, economical and tastes great!
- 8 cups whole milk (2 liters)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice or white vinegar
- Line a colander with a large piece of lightly dampened cheesecloth that has been folded over itself at least 3-4 times. Place the colander over a bowl. Make sure to use non-reactive materials. (Alternatively, you can use a recycled ricotta basket placed on a bowl).
- In a large heavy based saucepan, over medium heat, heat the milk.
- Add the salt and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Make sure the milk does not scorch.
- If you have a thermometer, heat to 185 F. If you do not have a thermometer, you need to reach a stage where there is a lot of steam, little bubbles close to the edge of the pot and the formation of a slight film. It should take about 20 minutes to get to this stage.
- Lower the heat to low.
- Add the lemon juice (or vinegar).
- Slowly agitate the mixture for 2 minutes. You will notice the curds (the ricotta) separating from the whey (yellowish liquid).
- Remove from heat.
- Cover pot and let stand for about 20 minutes.
- Carefully “ladle” your ricotta into the cheesecloth lined colander or your basket. The consistency of the final product will depend on the amount of time you leave the ricotta to drain. For a creamy ricotta, let it sit for 3-5 minutes; for a dryer ricotta, it can sit up to 20 minutes.
- Use immediately. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Yield is about 2 cups or 200 grams.
Inactive time: 20 minutes
You CANNOT make ricotta with ultra-pasteurized milk...so, no organic milk 🙁
(Here’s the link to view the video for Creamy Homemeade Fresh Ricotta Cheese on youtube!)
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Ciao for now!