June 12, 2009

Home Creamery: Whole Milk Ricotta


Whole Milk Ricotta
Whole Milk Ricotta

I never really liked cheese when I was young. Even as I grew older, I really never acquired a taste for cheese except when it was cooked into something. So it was a bit shocking to discover that making cheese interested me. Without a lifetime of cheese tasting experience, how would I know when something tasted right?

Research was required, so I started tasting cheeses at every opportunity and browsing books. Now I know that I like some cheeses, that I can learn to like some cheeses, and that stinky cheeses are not yet in either category. I also learned that, with proper equipment and a willingness to follow instructions, anyone can make cheese.

Traditional ricotta is whey recooked with vinegar. This version of ricotta doesn't require you to make another cheese first and it produces a very finely textured cheese with great flavor.

Whole Milk Ricotta

1 quart/liter whole milk
½ cup/125mL heavy cream (optional)
¼ teaspoon/1.25mL citric acid
¼ teaspoon/1.25mL cheese or kosher salt (optional)
This will produce about half a pound of cheese. The recipe scales up nicely if you need more. You can substitute 2 tablespoons/30mL freshly squeezed lemon juice for the citric acid but the resulting texture can be a bit more coarse.

As always, sterilize your equipment. The easiest method is to fill the pan you're using with water, your stainless steel spoon, and your measuring equipment. Bring to a boil and cover for 5 minutes.

Mix everything together in a stainless steel pan. I find it's easier if I put the pan with the milk into a larger pan, then fill the larger pan with water and heat that. When you mix everything together, the milk curdles almost immediately.


When you mix everything together, the milk curdles almost immediately.

As the milk heats, it thickens up and looks less lumpy. When the temperature approaches 195°F/91°C the curds start to separate from the whey.


The curds begin to separate from the whey.

Once the temperature is at least 195°F/91°C, but before it reaches 205°F/96°C, remove the pan from the heat and set it aside for 5-15 minutes. The curds will separate fully from the whey.


The curds have separated fully from the whey.

Put a colander into a large bowl and line the colander with dampened butter muslin or three layers of dampened cheesecloth. Gently pour the curds into the colander. Within a few seconds, much of the whey will have drained out, leaving the curds behind. You can let it drain in the colander, or tie the butter muslin closed and hang the cheese until it reaches the consistency you want. It should take 30 minutes or less to drain.


After draining about 30 minutes, the cheese is done.

Spoon the finished cheese into a sterile container and refrigerate. If you use salt, it will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator or three months in the freezer. If you choose not to salt the cheese, you should use it the same day for the best flavor and texture; it will last three days in the refrigerator. The whey can be used in place of milk in recipes.

This is a great cheese to start with, because it's very easy and forgiving.

Setting Up Your Home Creamery

A simple home creamery requires a few pieces of kitchen equipment. If you don't already have a good, accurate thermometer, get a high quality instant-read thermometer. A good stainless steel 2-quart covered saucepan will be your basic pan; a larger pan is usable but can be difficult to control unless you're doing larger batches. For measuring, you'll want a 4-cup measuring cup and a good set of measuring spoons. You'll also want some unbleached cheesecloth on hand, as well as an assortment of jars--I prefer french canning jars and bottles with bail tops.

22 comments:

  1. Great recipe! It can be so hard to find good, fresh ricotta.

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  2. Thanks! It's really easy to make ricotta and it doesn't really cost any more than the store-bought stuff.

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  3. Thank you so much for the step by step photo tutorial! I am such a visual person and this helps so much!

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  4. You're welcome! I thought it would be helpful to see what things looked like when the batch was successful so that you'd know you, too, were on the road to success. Give it a try, it's a very easy cheese, and absolutely wonderful.

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  5. This looks like a lot of fun! What kind of dish are you planning to use the finished product?

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  6. this is rely helpfull, this step by step procedure is rely great , so ill try it in my home, keep posting more

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  7. It was fun, and is something I'll continue to make as a staple pantry item. I thought I might make some ravioli with the cheese, but the first dish I made was stuffed tomatoes.

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  8. Thank you! I'm glad you found it helpful. I plan to continue with more cheeses, probably mozzarella next.

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  9. I am so glad that you enjoy making it. I have made it with buttermilk, citric acid, lemon juice the first time but the second time with apple cider vinegar is the favorite in my cooking classes. -Tien :)

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  10. Let me know if you need help with mozzarella. I have done it with whole, 2%, skim, powder milk with creme, and half and half. The favorite is with whole milk in my classes. -Tien :)

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  11. For those of you who may be inpatient and can't wait for mail order to bring your citric acid I have had great success in finding Sour Salt (brand ROKEACH) in the Kosher section of Safeway food stores. Sour Salt IS citric acid, check the ingredients there is only one - citric acid.

    About 5 1/2 ounces for $2.19 - plenty of cheese making citric acid.

    (And can be used during passover! for those of you it applies to)

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  12. Excellent suggestion. Thanks!

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  13. I work in a creamery making cheddars and jacks, but we've never done ricotta. I am going to try this when I get back to my apartment. Put that in some lasagna and you're golden.

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  14. I've made ricotta a couple of times, but had trouble with the milk scorching. Your suggestion of setting the milk pan inside another pan of water worked perfectly! It came out perfect this time! I'm going to do the same thing when I make mozzarella, too.

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  15. Good! I'm glad it worked as well for you as it has for me. Sometimes it's those simple things that make all the difference.

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  16. It's very simple, and you'll be very happy you've made it. Let me know how it turns out.

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  17. Looks amazing and simple to do!

    I'm going to make it tonight.

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  18. I made it tonight! It was so easy. I ate some with honey and it was so ridiculously good.

    Thank you for the recipe!

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  19. You're welcome. I'm glad to hear that it turned out well.

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  20. [...] is much more fun and tasty than anything store bought. This week I learned how to make my own ricotta cheese. Seriously now, how cool is that? Never again will I have to buy it! It’s so yummy and delish [...]

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  21. [...] tested doing it the way he says and it came out as good as his pictures show.  Here is the link  Home Creamery: Whole Milk Ricotta .  Come on people, it has four ingredients: Milk, Heavy Cream, Citric Acid, & [...]

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  22. [...] made cheese before, this is as good a cheese as any to start with. You’ll also want to read Home Creamery: Whole Milk Ricotta to get a more in-depth look at the most basic cheesemaking equipment and [...]

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