If you’ve never made Homemade Ricotta Cheese before, you need to stop reading this right now and go to your refrigerator, the farm market or your local grocery store, and grab some whole milk, heavy cream, quality white wine vinegar, and a pinch of kosher salt. Oh, and a cheesecloth, you can find that in the baking aisle. That’s all you’ll need. Ok, go. Come back when you have everything, I’ll wait right here….
Once you’ve made your own ricotta cheese, you’ll saunter by those imposters in the dairy aisle with a well-deserved swag. You will never want a supermarket brand again. Homemade ricotta cheese is far superior in quality and taste.
Scour the internet for recipes and you’ll see that many use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the milk. It’s just not necessary. Once the milk and cream reach a full boil, remove from heat and add white wine vinegar. After a minute or so the mixture will turn to curds and whey. That’s right, curds and whey…. You’re thinking what I’m thinking. Little Miss Muffet. I’d like to think she was sitting on her tuffet making ricotta cheese and couldn’t stop herself from eating the curds and whey. See, there was potential there for a nursery rhyme about patience and willpower. Although, not quite as catchy, I guess.
Don’t be like Miss Muffet.
Line a colander or sieve with dampened cheesecloth and set it on top of a bowl to catch the whey (milky water) as it separates from the curds (the solids). Alternatively, you can do what my grandmother used to do and cut cheesecloth that is long enough to tie and hang from a knob on a kitchen cabinet and set a bowl under the hanging bundle to catch the whey. Or, hang the bundle from the top of the kitchen faucet so the whey can drain into the sink.
If you use the colander and bowl method, you’ll want the bowl to be slightly smaller than the colander. This way, the bottom of the colander isn’t sitting in a pool of whey. Even if there is adequate space between the two, check periodically to see if too much whey is accumulating in the bowl and discard.
After 20-25 minutes, the whey will have drained from the curds and your cheesecloth will cradle the most delicately warm and aromatic bundle of ricotta cheese known to mankind. It’s really that simple.
Once the mixture has cooled, but is still quite warm, toast yourself
a slice of rustic bread and spread a warm layer of ricotta on top. Oh my yum!
When we have dinner parties or get-togethers, we like to include little mason jars filled with warm ricotta cheese topped with caramelized onions as part of our appetizer display. Serving the ricotta warm takes this cheese to a whole other level and makes the texture creamier. It’s an amazing flavor combination when served on crostini.
You can make this ahead of time too. It will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Just think how much better your recipes will be now that you’ve made your own Homemade Ricotta Cheese! You are a super-star and way more patient than that Muffet girl.
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Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Yields 2-3 Cups
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons quality white wine vinegar
- Set a large sieve or colander over a large, deep bowl;
- Dampen a cheesecloth (about 2 layers of cheesecloth) with water and line the sieve or the colander;
- Pour milk and heavy cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add salt. Stir occasionally and allow contents to come to a full, rapid boil;
- Turn off flame and remove from heat. Stir in white wine vinegar and set aside for a minute to allow curds to form;
- Ladle the hot mixture into the cheesecloth lined sieve or colander and let stand for 20-25 minutes so the whey (milky water can drain); The longer the mixture sits the thicker the ricotta cheese. If too thick, add a bit of milk and stir.
- Spoon the ricotta into a large jar or container and discard the cheesecloth and whey;
- Serve warm or refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Use this for any recipe that calls for ricotta. Tastes great served warmed on toasted bread as-is or topped with caramelized onions. Make your own flavor combinations. We add spinach and stuff homemade ravioli. You can add herbs and spices and use it as a spread. Have fun!
Keeps in the fridge, in a covered container for 4-5 days.
Make. Eat. Repeat.