Homemade Ricotta Cheese takes about an hour to make with only minutes of prep. Today I taped an episode of KSL Studio 5. The theme was homestead cooking, or taking it back to basics. I remember my mom making most everything from scratch. Twenty, thirty years ago, my family did not have all the conveniences we enjoy today.
While thinking about what to make, I decided on Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Homemade Mayonnaise. It was so fun to explore all the things to do with Homemade Ricotta Cheese. Besides it is so fun to watch science at work. When you add the vinegar to the warm milk, immediately you can see the curds. I love when magic happens right before my eyes.
How to Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1. The best cheese comes from whole milk. The fat in whole milk is what helps make the curds and delicious cheese. Measure out four cups of whole milk and pour it into a sauce pan. Place the saucepan on the stove on medium heat.
2. You need a reliable thermometer. You can use an instant read thermometer or a candy thermometer that clips on your saucepan. Getting the milk to a 175° to 180° is the key to making great Homemade Ricotta Cheese. It takes about 10 minutes to heat the milk to this temperature. You can leave it on medium heat and stir it every once in while to keep the milk from burning.
3. While the milk is warming up, place cheesecloth over a strainer that is sitting in a large bowl. The cheesecloth will catch the cheese once it is ready and the strainer will allow all the whey water to collect below the strainer in the bowl.
4. Once the warm milk reaches a temperature inside the 175° – 180° window, add the salt and the vinegar. This is where the magic of scienc happens. Use a spoon to stir the milk for about a minute as the vinegar separates the curds from the whey. Once you see the curds forming, you know you have done everything correctly.
5. The curds need to sit for 20 minutes. This is called the “holding stage” of making cheese. Make sure to set the timer. Everything needs time to really get cozy to create the best cheese. The temperature of the milk might drop during the holding stage. If this happens, turn the heat on to a low temperature to bring it back up to at least 170°.
6. After the timer goes off, pour the curds and whey in the strainer with the cheesecloth. You will see the luscious curds staying on top of the cheesecloth while the whey water drains into the bowl below. The curds need to drain, in the cheesecloth, for 30 minutes.
7. After the 30 minute timer goes off, you are ready to take the ricotta cheese out of the cheesecloth. Isn’t this so easy? When you taste this cheese, you will think, why have I not been making Homemade Ricotta Cheese all my life? It really is amazing and will last in your refrigerator for one month.
8. You can take this beautiful cheese and use it in any recipe you like, or you can put it in a food processor. This will create a creamy, smooth ricotta if that is what you like. I prefer the lumpy ricotta cheese for lasagne and the smooth ricotta for cakes.
9. I love making lasagne with this ricotta cheese, but a Ricotta Raspberry Cake is a favorite as well. We also love ricotta pancakes. Let your imagination take over.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Rapid Read Thermometer
- 2 Feet Cheesecloth
- 4 Cups Whole Milk
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 Tbsp. Vinegar
- Heat milk between 175° – 180°.
- Once the milk is at this temperature, add the salt and vinegar.
- Stir for one minute as you watch the curds form.
- Let this sit for 20 minutes, this is the "holding stage." Continue to keep the milk at least 170°.
- While the ricotta is in the holding stage, place cheesecloth in a strainer that is sitting on a large bowl.
- After the holding stage, pour the ricotta cheese into the cheesecloth.
- The cheesecloth will collect all the curds and the whey water will drain into the boil.
- Let this drain for 30 minutes.
- After the 30 minutes, pick up the cheesecloth and place the ricotta cheese into another refrigerator safe bowl without the cheesecloth. Be careful not to drain too much of the whey. It will create a cheese that is drier. You might like your ricotta more dry.
- You can also refrigerate the ricotta cheese in the cheese cloth. Twist the top of the cheesecloth to create a ball. This will give the cheese more of a shape.