With only 4 ingredients, you can make your own rich, creamy, and smooth ricotta cheese and you’ll never buy store bought again!
There are only three steps involved in making ricotta: warming the milk and cream, adding salt and lemon juice, and straining the curds. That’s it! I’ll explain what’s happening every step of the way and, at the end, you’ll feel like a pro! Don’t try to save calories or reduce fat by using a skim or non-fat milk. This is NOT the recipe to do that. The best thing about homemade ricotta is the creaminess and richness. Serve it with a nice salad. Feel better now?
Some recipes call for using vinegar. I’ve tried lemon juice and I’ve tried vinegar, and I love the bright flavor that lemon juice gives the cheese. So, go gather your ingredients and let’s do this thing!
(This recipe makes about 2 cups of ricotta cheese)
- 1/2 Gallon whole milk (8 cups)
- 1 Cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- 1/4 Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons, closer to one)
- Bring milk and cream (the “milks”) to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching the bottom of the pan. You want a good amount of bubbles on the edge of your mixture. If you’re an exact measurement kind of person, or it’s your first time and you want to be sure, use a thermometer and bring the milks to at least 185°.
- When the milks come to temperature, remove the pan from the heat. Add the salt and stir. Now drizzle your lemon juice all over the surface of the milks. Stir it very gently with a wooden spoon to disperse the lemon juice throughout the mixture. You’ll start to see clumping of the curds almost immediately. You will be very excited because delicious science is happening right before your eyes! What you see is that when heat and acid (the lemon juice) are applied to the milk, the curd proteins all clump together, leaving behind the watery whey (curds and whey! Little Miss Muffet!) This is the cheese forming! Gently stir for 3-5 minutes to encourage the process.
- Using a ladle or a slotted spoon, gently lift the curds out of the pot and into a colander that has been lined with cheesecloth (save at least 1/2 cup of the whey liquid. I’ll tell you why in a minute). Fold the edges of the cheesecloth over the top and allow the cheese to drain for at least 30 minutes, and up to a few hours, depending on how firm you want your cheese. If you are draining your cheese longer than a couple of hours (for a firmer cheese), refrigerate. If you find that the cheese consistency is firmer than you like, you can add back a little of the reserved whey and stir it in. You can store fresh ricotta in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but it won’t last that long 😊
- Congratulations, you are now a Cheese Maker. Fresh Ricotta is especially delicious at room temperature, just spread over lightly toasted bread and drizzled with a good olive oil or, my personal favorite, covered in tomato bruschetta. However you serve it, you’ll look at store-bought ricotta the same “whey” again 😂!