How To Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Cheese making is really not as difficult as you might think. In fact, it’s actually quite simple, and a great project for small-apartment dwellers. Basic cheeses, such as farmer’s cheese and ricotta, don’t even require any special equipment or a large amount of space. All you need is some dairy and an acid to separate the curds from the whey. Plus the quality of the end product is so much better than the store bought stuff that there’s really no comparison.

This past Saturday I was basically a project-making whore. If you follow the Facebook page, you already know that I made two batches of preserves, some more pesto for the freezer, a gin infusion, some bread, and homemade ricotta. All came out super fab, though I’m still waiting to taste the gin infusion I’ve got brewing. But of all the things I made, I was most excited about making the ricotta because it’s something I haven’t tried yet and I’m pretty much cheese obsessed. (Why, hello Whole Foods cheese counter!) The creamy, smooth, mellow taste of ricotta is great in your typical Italian dishes like lasagna, but it also makes a great cheesy dip for vegetables, a spread on toasted baguette, or a topping on a homemade pizza. Plus homemade cheese will impress the pants off your friends at the next dinner party you throw.

If you’ve never made cheese before, I suggest you give it a shot. It’s extremely rewarding, and another skill you can add to your homesteading resume. Also, if you’re interested in making more advanced cheeses like I am in the near future, pick up the fabulous Ashley English’s book, Homemade Dairy. It covers a lot of the basics on cheese making but also ventures into the advanced hard cheese territory. This summer was filled with lots of jams and preserves, but I’m thinking cheese might be my next big adventure for the fall!

If you’re interested in making some English muffin bread with me next week, make sure to save your whey when making your ricotta. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh and one more thing, if you’re looking for another easy homemade cheese, check out my post on homemade Paneer from January ’11, it’s fantastic.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

What You’ll Need:

1 Quart of whole, 2%, or skim milk (organic if possible)
1 C. Heavy Cream (again, organic if possible)
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
¼ C. Cider vinegar

Note: When choosing milk, realize that higher fat milk, like in whole milk, will yield a cheese that if fuller and richer in flavor.

Begin by pouring milk, cream, and salt in a heavy-bottomed pot and place over a medium-high flame. Attach a candy thermometer, being sure that it does not touch the bottom of the pan, and bring the milk to a temperature of 180 degrees (which will take about 20-30 minutes). I have learned that stirring the milk too much during this process makes too small a curd, and stirring too little makes larger curds, so with that in mind just stir occasionally to prevent scorching.

Once the milk hits 180 degrees pour in your cider vinegar. You will begin to see the curds separate from the whey almost immediately—the curds are your ricotta! Turn the heat off and let everything sit on the warm stove for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, create your drainage system.

Place cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel in a strainer and place over a large bowl. If you want to save the whey, place a bowl underneath like I did—it makes a great addition to breads and pancake batter. Some people even drink it straight up, but I’m not one of those people.

Gently ladle the curds and whey into the cheese cloth and let drain for 25-35 minutes. The longer you let the curds drain, the more thick your ricotta will become. I like something in the middle, so I shoot for about 30 minutes.

Place in an airtight container, and use within one week.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta on Punk Domestics
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7 Responses to “How To Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese”


  1. 1 Maria Oropallo August 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    oh! Reminder do NOT use ultra pasteurized cream or milk.

  2. 3 Cat August 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Delicious! I agree that ricotta is a great cheese to make in an apartment with no extra equipment needed. I hope your readers make this recipe! It looks great 🙂

  3. 4 Liesl August 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    my golly… the way you explain this process is awesome! thanks for sharing! it makes me want to try this pronto!

  4. 5 Maria Oropallo August 28, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Hi, not trying be mean or pushy, but I’ve been making ricotta for over 20 years. I use only full fat milk – and make sure not to use ultra pasteurized. Here’s a link to the New England Cheesemaking website which explains why one would rather use non- UP milk. UP milk or cream doesn’t form the type of curd used in traditional cheese making. http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/124.html.

    Perhaps because your recipe uses milk and cream and the amount of cream is only a portion of the total, the effects are less noticeable.


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