How To Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Milk, lemon juice, and about a half-hour of your time thats all you need to make a batch of fresh, creamy homemade ricotta. Youre not going to believe how easy and foolproof this is! And trust me once you make your own ricotta, its hard to go back to the stuff from the tub.
When I say this only takes a half hour, I should clarify that most of that time is actually hands-off. You bring the milk almost to a simmer, add lemon juice or vinegar, and then let it sit while you work on the rest of dinner. Another 10 minutes or so goes into straining the curds, and then the ricotta is ready for your lasagna, pizza, or whatever delicious plans you have in store.
This process for making ricotta works best if youre using whole milk, although Ive had success with 2%. Just avoid skim or nonfat milk as there just isnt enough milk fat left in the milk to actually separate into curds and whey. Also avoid using ultra-high temperature pasteurized milk, as this process changes the protein structure of the milk and prevents it from separating. Unfortunately, many organic milks are UHT pasteurized, so if organic ricotta is your aim, definitely check the carton before buying.
I should also add that this is a simplified method intended for making a quick batch of ricotta at home. Traditionally, ricotta is made by heating the whey leftover from other cheese-making projects if you have whey of this type, then by all means, you should try making traditional ricotta!
Raw Milk Ricotta Cheese
Pour your gallon of raw milk into a heavy bottom pot. Heat on the stove over low/medium until the milk reaches a temperature of 190 degrees F.
Once it reaches that temperature, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in 6 Tbsp lemon juice* . Give it a stir to distribute evenly.
Cover, and allow the milk to sit for up to 10 minutes over time, the curds will filter to the top as white fluffy pillows. Line your colander with a double layer of butter muslin.
Pour your ricotta over the colander and drain for up to 10 minutes. Stir in the salt, then refrigerate your ricotta in a tightly sealed container. Use within a few days.
What Is Ricotta Cheese Used For
Ricotta is an important ingredient in the Italian kitchen, and can be found in many recipes as the base for a filling or topping for:
- desserts like cannoli and ricotta pie
Ricotta is best used when very fresh and is not intended to be aged. If you cannot use your ricotta within a week, it can be kept frozen for up to a month in a well-sealed container.
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Tips For Perfect Homemade Ricotta
Homemade ricotta cannot be made with ultra-pasteurized milk, as the curd will not set. Read the label on your milk to make sure it isnt ultra-pasteurized.
Make sure your homemade ricotta is sufficiently drained for using in baking or as a filling for pasta. Watery ricotta could alter the desired outcome of your recipe.
Wash your cheesecloth well in diluted bleach water, and let it hang to dry. You can reuse cheesecloth many times!
The longer you let your ricotta cheese strain, the drier it will be. Drier ricotta is great for baking and the less you strain, the more creamy it will be.
Ingredients For This Ricotta Cheese Recipe
- 1/2 gallon whole milk pasteurized is fine, but make sure it is not ultra pasteurized
- 1 tsp citric acid you can find this on amazon or in some specialty grocers, lemon juice will also work, but youll need about 1 tbsp!
- 1 tsp kosher salt
As you can see, the ingredients list is super simple. I know citric acid is bit hard to find, but lemon juice can also work in its place. I just prefer citric acid for the more consistent and quick results.
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Cedar Wraps Method For Smoked Ricotta
While everyone is familiar with cedar planks for smoking, cedar wraps are relatively new. The folks at Fire & Flavor who make and distribute an excellent product here in the US sent us a few samples and we tested them by smoking ricotta. They are really great for delicate foods such as shrimp, scallops, fish, mushrooms and thin veggie sticks.
We loved what these thin wraps did for the ricotta very fragrant smokey sweet flavor and beautiful color. The main difference with the cold-smoking method is that you do need to place the ricotta onto or inside a heat source for the wraps to work, therefore the ricottas texture changed a bit, but the cheese did not dry out excessively.
How To Make Ricotta Cheese
Begin by lining 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. Set it aside while we begin to make the ricotta cheese from scratch.
You are now ready to combine two of the ingredients in a large heavy-based saucepan.
Please note you CANNOT make ricotta with ultra-pasteurized milk.
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.
Making ricotta requires a source of acidity in order for the curds to form. I usually use lemon juice or white vinegar.
The results with lemon juice can vary since it depends on the acidity of the lemon. Dont hesitate to add an additional tablespoon or two of lemon juice if your milk does not curdle immediately.
Do not use Meyer lemons as these are sweeter and do not have the same acidity as regular lemons.
I use white vinegar to make ricotta for savory dishes like pizza, lasagna, pasta, or these Spinach Calzones.
Isnt it amazing that in just a few minutes, you will begin to notice the formation of curds?
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What Ingredients Are In The Mix
Well, besides ricotta cheese of course, the mixture also has mozzarella and Romano cheeses, as well as fresh parsley, black pepper and eggs.
You can also use garlic powder if you’d like, depending on the amount of garlic in the sauce you are using.
For the most part, the blend of the three cheeses with the parsley and black pepper will complement almost any tomato sauce you’re going to use in your pasta dishes.
Over spicing the cheese mixture can clash with the sauce causing the overall flavor of the dish to be a bust.
Extra Citric Acid If Needed
At 165-170F watch for small flakes forming in the milk and the separation into small flaky curds.
If after a few minutes you do not see the flakes forming, add more of the Citric acid until they form. Do this in 1 Tbsp increments, to avoid over acid milk.
At this point, when you see the curds, A slower stirring is essential to avoid breaking up the small bits of curd that have formed. Excess stirring will cause smaller and very granular curds to form. I tend to just roll the milk slowly with a bottom to top stirring motion.
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How To Serve Homemade Ricotta
There are endless possibilities here, foodies! Ill name a few of my favorites, but please let me know your ideas too!
The simplest way to enjoy ricotta cheese at home is to spread it on toast. This way, you can enjoy the dish for breakfast or as an appetizer. Choose rye toast for breakfast and sliced baguette for an appetizer.
And its easy to garnish ricotta toast however you like, such as:
- Sprinkle with chopped nuts
- Drizzle with your favorite jam, honey, or maple syrup.
- Garnish with fresh fruit
- Dried fruits !
You can also turn ricotta into the star of a dish like Baked Ricotta with Honey & Figs.
Another great way to use your ricotta cheese is to stir it into the batter of quick breads. I especially love adding it to banana bread, it always makes the moistest, dense texture.
Critical Step: The Hold
Once you’ve heated the milk and added the acid, the curds form within a minute or so. Many recipes simply have you scrape them off right away and set them to drain. This is fast, but it’s a huge mistake.
I started my testing by examining what effects a rest might have on the curds before skimming. To do it, I made a couple batches of ricotta. With the first one, I skimmed the curds right away and set them to drain. With the second one, I removed the pot from the heat and let it stand for about 20 minutes before skimming and draining. The results were clear: Curds that rested in the whey came out lighter and fluffier, with a more tender texture. Curds that were scooped immediately were dense and dry.
I subsequently tested longer resting periods , but I found that the curds became waterlogged and fell apart too easily if they sat for too long.
For a moment, I thought I more or less had the ricotta figured out. But one thing irked me: The results looked like ricotta, they had a texture similar to ricotta, but they didn’t taste like ricotta. They just tasted like milk. If you’re thinking, “Well, doesn’t ricotta taste like milk?”, I’d refer you to what I wrote earliertoo many people don’t know what ricotta is supposed to be like. Ricotta has a flavor all its own.
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How To Serve The Smoked Delicacy
You can enjoy smoked ricotta simply by including it in cheese boards and crudités platters. One of our favorite methods is to stuff a sweet mini pepper with smoked ricotta delicious finger food!
You can also drizzle it with some olive oil, season it with a bit of salt and pepper and spread it over toast, bruschetta, bagels, etc. Or use it as pizza topping or calzone stuffing. You can fold it into mashed potatoes or omelettes. So many options.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta has the potential to spoil quickly, so you do need to use it within days of making your own or opening a store-bought container.
Although you can freeze your leftover ricotta and use it at a later date, the texture will change. More specifically, it will be crumbly when you thaw it.
It no longer tastes quite like fresh ricotta anymore. That being said, frozen ricotta can be used in recipes where other ingredients are mixed with it in cooked or baked dishes.
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How To Make Ricotta From Whey Produced By Straining Yogurt
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Home » How To Make Ricotta from Whey Produced by Straining Yogurt
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Preview: Discover how to make Ricotta from whey leftover from the process of straining yogurt to make Greek yogurt. Whey gives Ricotta the perfect flavor.
Are you a Greek yogurt maker with lots of whey on your hands? This is a practical idea for using up some of the whey you get from straining regular yogurt.
Save yourself a last-minute trip to the store the next time you get hungry for lasagna. Its one reason I always keep a quart of whey from my latest batch of yogurt in the fridge.
Not a yogurt maker? Substitute buttermilk for the whey.
Homemade recipes normally call for lemon juice or vinegar to make Ricotta. Using yogurt whey creates a neutrally-flavored cheese perfect for any recipe.
Equipment You Need For Homemade Ricotta
For this homemade Ricotta cheese recipe, you will need the following equipment:
- Cheesecloth cheesecloth is used to help separate the whey from the curd.
- Non-reactive colander a colander is used in conjunction with the cheesecloth to separate the why from the curd.
- Non-reactive bowl your colander needs something to rest in and that something is a bowl. Just make sure its bigger than your colander.
- Non-reactive heavy bottom saucepan youll need a saucepan that is big enough to hold all of the milk and cream.
- Ladle a ladle is used to spoon the curd and whey from the saucepan to the colander.
- Wooden Spoon use a wooden spoon to stir ingredients together as it heats up.
- Thermometer a thermometer is a must for this ricotta recipe. It needs to reach 192ºF before turning off the heat to rest.
What does nonreactive mean:nonreactive is referring to cookware that does not react to acidity. Stainless steel is an example of non-reactive cookware.
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What Do I Need To Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- Whole milk. Yes, full fat 3.25% milk.
- Salt. Adjust to your own personal taste.
- Lemon Juice. The acidity of the lemons will create those wonderful curds.
As far as accessories are concerned, you need a heavy bottom saucepan with a lid, a wooden spoon, a slotted ladle, a bowl, and a strainer.
You also need cheesecloth and a ricotta basket. The objective is not to lose any of the curds when you drain your freshly made ricotta. I reuse the plastic containers from the times that I purchase store-bought ricotta.
Prep Your Tools And Assemble Ingredients
Life comes at you fast: get everything in order now to ensure a smooth cooking process. Line a large colander with two layers of cheesecloth and set the colander in a large bowl. Measure out your milk, cream, and saltalong with the fresh lemon juice, which you’ll add later. This recipe is foolproof.
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Ingredients 2 Simple Steps And Your Ricotta Will Be Ready In Minutes
Ricotta in Italian means re-cooked. Its made by reheating the whey left over from making another cheese. In Tuscany, the leftover whey they use is from sheeps milk pecorino.
So, while homemade ricotta is not a true ricotta, it certainly tastes just as good! Here milk instead of whey is heated up to near boiling point, then acid is added to precipitate the formation of curds. Once formed, the curds are drained through a cheesecloth and voilà! Within a few minutes youve made your very own batch of fresh ricotta.
Heres the recipe I developed for this most simple of cheeses. Ive tried it with different acids and with different milks. All yield a different-tasting but always stunning ricotta.
Quick Dishes Featuring Smoked Ricotta
Smoked Ricotta Polenta Cook polenta as per the instructions on the packaging. Once done, add a cup of smoked ricotta for every two cups of cooked polenta. Simply crumble the smoked ricotta over the still hot polenta and gently fold it in using a fork. Enjoy immediately.
Smoked Ricotta Pasta Cook your choice of pasta as per the manufactures instructions. Strain cooked pasta and return to pot, add smoked ricotta to taste and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle some chopped fresh herbs, fold the ricotta into the pasta and serve immediately.
Smoked Ricotta Salad Smoked ricotta is delicious when added to various salads, especially if made with roasted root vegetables or grilled peaches.
Smoked Ricotta Dip To make it use this recipe and leave out the lemon juice.
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Get Your Temperature Right
Even though you’re using whole milk and all of its casein proteins for this homemade ricotta, you still want to capture as much of the whey protein as you can. Only through the combination of heat and acidity will the whey proteins coagulate. So that means we need to heat our milk. The question, then, is to what temperature.
The good news here is that you have some flexibility. I got good results with anywhere from about 175°F to 185°F . You can go higher, and you can go lower, but you begin to risk some negative effects. On the low end, you’ll hurt your yield. At 165°F , the liquid that remained after I coagulated the milk was still plenty milky, and I got about 33% less curds as a result. You could increase your acid quantity to make 165°F work, but then your ricotta will taste like crap.
Higher temperatures, meanwhile, can produce drier, grainier curds, in a way that’s possibly similar to cooking eggshigher temperatures increase the bond strength between proteins, forcing more water out of the curds.
The Equipment You’ll Need
- The milk you choose for making ricotta will effect the result. Allan prefers small-batch milk for its flavour and fat content, preferably homogenised, which doesn’t separate into cream. The higher the fat content of the milk, the greater the protein, yielding creamier curds. Some of Allan’s preferred brands include The Pines and Barambah Organics.
- Ricotta baskets are available from cheesemaking suppliers such as Cheese Links.
- A thermometer to monitor the temperature of the milk.
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