Making your own fresh Ricotta Cheese at home could not be easier! All it takes is a few ingredients and less than 30 minutes. I promise, you will never go back to using the store-bought ricotta again when you see how easy this is to make.
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Why Make Your Own Ricotta?
Anything homemade is better and ricotta is no exception to that.
It tastes fresher, has no preservatives or chemicals added, and is better for you and better tasting. There's just no comparison to the store-bought stuff in my opinion.
Plus, there are so many uses for ricotta:
- Top off bolognese or tomato-based pasta sauces for a rich and creamy layer
- Use it in meatless baked ziti, lasagna or other baked pasta dishes
- Serve as dessert with some honey and cinnamon or figs (when they're in season)
- Use it to make my Grapefruit Ricotta Cookies!
How to Make Homemade Ricotta
Grab yourself some fresh milk, fresh cream, salt, a large lemons, some cheesecloth and a sieve or strainer.
Be sure the milk is not ultra-pasteurized as it will not work as well in this recipe.
Juice the lemon, being sure to strain out any pits and pith and set aside.
Place the milk, cream and salt in a large pot over moderate heat, stirring constantly to ensure the milk/cream doesn't scorch or boil over.
Boiled-over milk is no fun to clean, so don't move away from the stove until this part is done.
Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, pour in lemon juice and allow to boil for about 2 minutes until curds are visible, as shown in the photo below.
Strain the Mixture
Carefully pour the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined sieve or large strainer set over a bowl. Leave alone for approximately 10 minutes.
If you like your ricotta to be creamier, strain for less time and if you like it drier, strain for a bit longer.
The photo below shows the ricotta strained for 10 minutes. This consistency is perfect for me.
You can always add back in a bit of the whey, the strained liquid that's now in the bowl, into the ricotta if it becomes too dry for your liking.
Uses for Whey
Once the ricotta has been strained, transfer it to a covered bowl or large mason jar with a lid and store in the fridge until ready to use.
You can choose to discard the whey, the liquid that drained from the ricotta, or you can store it in a large jar as well for other uses (in the photo below, the whey is the slightly yellowish liquid shown in the large mason jar in the top left corner).
There are lots of recipes on the good ol' internet that use whey or for which you can substitute whey for water, broth or milk, such as smoothies, soups, mashed potatoes and pasta sauces.
Search it up and see what you can find and you'll have virtually no waste from this recipe!
Once the ricotta is ready, use it to top off your pasta or bolognese. It adds a perfect balance of flavor and richness to meat or tomato-based sauces.
Or, serve it for dessert with a little honey and cinnamon. Simple and delicious!
You can also use it in my Grapefruit Ricotta Cookies recipe. Get creative and let me know how you use your homemade ricotta!
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice juice from approximately one large lemon
- Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. In a separate bowl, juice the lemon, being sure to strain out any pits or pith. Set the juice and sieve aside
- Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes
- Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for 10 minutes. Draining for shorter will produce creamier ricotta, draining for longer will produce drier ricotta. Scoop the drained ricotta out of the sieve and place in a covered container. Chill the ricotta until ready to use. Discard whey (strained liquid) or place in a covered jar for future use (see notes below)
- Ricotta will keep in fridge for 2-3 days
- There are lots of uses for the whey, the strained liquid. You can discard it or you can use it in smoothies, mashed potatoes, pasta, etc. Google uses for whey and you'll find loads of great uses!