Discover the joy of crafting your own homemade cheese with this simple recipe for whole milk ricotta cheese. Ditch the store-bought versions and embrace the freshness of creating your own. Let’s get started with a little culinary DIY!
Making your own ricotta cheese at home is couldn’t be more easy. Using only 3 simple ingredients including cow’s milk, this homemade ricotta cheese recipe allows you to create your very own cheese, free from additives and preservatives.
From items easily obtained, you can make your own cheese from scratch, that is useful in so many recipes or just as tasty simply spread on toast
Making your own substitute versions of ingredients, like this Golden Syrup Substitute and this Homemade Buttermilk, will save you time and money too! It’s simple and rewarding and can also be a bonding experience for the whole family.
Dive into the process of crafting your own creamy, dreamy ricotta cheese, and enrich your dishes with its luscious, homemade goodness.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Simplicity Meets Freshness: This recipe demands only a few basic ingredients that can be found in any grocery store and a little patience, making it accessible for anyone who craves the freshness of homemade cheese.
- Wholesome and Preservative-Free: By using cow’s milk, you’re in control of what goes into your ricotta. No additives, no preservatives, just pure, homemade goodness.
- Family Fun in the Kitchen: Crafting your own ricotta cheese can be a delightful family activity. It’s a simple, hands-on experience that connects you with your food and each other, while creating a delicious result.
What is Ricotta Cheese and How Is It Made?
Ricotta cheese is a luscious, creamy, soft cheese. It is crafted primarily from milk, typically cow’s milk nowadays, though in the past, it was often made from the milk of sheep or goats.
The name “ricotta” hails from Italian words that mean “recooked” or “twice cooked,” reflecting the unique process it undergoes.
You see, when cheese is being made, there’s a by-product called whey. Whey is the yellow-coloured liquid that separates from the solid curds during cheese production. Long ago, people couldn’t bear to waste a drop of this precious whey, so they ingeniously devised a way to give it new life – by creating ricotta cheese.
To craft true ricotta, that leftover whey is gently warmed, just enough to work its magic, not too hot. As it warms up, small curds form in the whey which are carefully strained to eliminate any excess liquid. These curds are what give ricotta its signature soft, slightly grainy, and incredibly creamy texture.
Making ricotta cheese at home differs from professional production in a few key ways.
When making ricotta at home, you usually start with readily available whole milk, cream, or a combination of the two, rather than the leftover whey from other cheese-making processes.
At home, you often use an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, to curdle the milk, while professional production relies on gentle heating of whey to naturally form curds.
Additionally, the temperature and equipment used at home may not be as precise as in professional settings, leading to variations in texture and flavour.
Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta tends to have a slightly different taste and consistency, often creamier and milder, compared to the firmer, slightly grainy texture of commercially produced ricotta. While both versions have their unique charm, creamy homemade ricotta give you the satisfaction that comes from creating it in your own kitchen.
- Large Stainless Steel Pan and Lid: This is where you’ll heat and curdle the milk. Choose a non-reactive, heavy-bottomed one to ensure even heating. We cover the pan after heating to allow curd formation to take place.
- Thermometer: To accurately measure the milk’s temperature. A digital kitchen thermometer or candy thermometer works well.
- Stirring Utensil: A long-handled wooden spoon or a spatula for gently mixing the ingredients.
- Colander: You’ll need a colander for draining the curds from the whey. Make sure it fits over a larger bowl or pot.
- Slotted Spoon: A slotted spoon can be a useful tool for carefully lifting the ricotta curds from the excess liquid.
- Muslin/Cheese Cloth or Fine-Mesh Strainer/Bag: This is for lining the colander. It allows the whey to drain while retaining the curds.
- Lidded Container: To store your fresh ricotta. An airtight container is perfect for preserving its creamy goodness in the fridge.
- Whole Milk: The primary ingredient, rich in fat and protein, forms the base of your ricotta cheese. Be sure to use the freshest milk you can buy.
- Salt: Adds flavour and helps coagulate the milk proteins during the cheese-making process.
- White Distilled Vinegar: This acid component is essential for curdling the milk, separating the curds (solids) from the whey (liquid).
Additions and Substitutions
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Instead of white distilled vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar in your homemade ricotta. However it has a slightly milder acidity compared to white vinegar so may not produce as many curds and the taste of apple cider vinegar can be noticeable in the final product which might not suit all recipes.
- Different Types of Milk: While the recipe calls for whole milk, you can experiment with various types like goat’s milk or sheep’s milk or a mixture of them. Pease note that textures can vary; some may curdle better than others.
- Citric Acid: As an alternative to vinegar, you can use citric acid for curdling. This provides a consistent acidity, although the flavour might be more tangy and the sourness could prove too strong for some recipes.
- Lemon Juice: You can replace the vinegar with a tablespoon of lemon juice for every 250ml of Milk.
- Cream: To make a richer, creamier ricotta, you can blend in some heavy cream during the stirring phase.
Ultra-Pasteurized Milk (Not Recommended): It’s not advisable to use ultra-pasteurized milk for making ricotta because the ultra-pasteurization process heats the milk to an ultra-high temperature, often above 275°F (135°C). This extreme heat can alter the milk’s proteins in a way that makes it less suitable for forming curds and yielding a good ricotta texture. It’s best to stick with regular pasteurized or raw milk for optimal results.
Can I Use Skimmed or Semi-Skimmed Milk To Make Ricotta?
While you can technically use skimmed or semi-skimmed milk to make ricotta cheese, it is not the most common or ideal choice. The reason for this is that ricotta cheese relies on the fats and proteins in the milk to achieve its characteristic texture and flavour. Lower fat milk like Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk has had a significant portion of its fat removed, which can result in a less creamy and slightly grainy ricotta compared to using whole milk.
The fat in milk contributes to the richness and creaminess of the cheese, while the proteins are crucial for forming curds during the cheese-making process. When you use skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, there is a lower fat content, and having not enough milk fat can lead to a less luxurious and less tasty ricotta. The curds may also be smaller and less cohesive, affecting the overall texture.
Step-By-Step How To Make Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
Step 1: Prepare the Milk
- Pour the whole milk into a large, heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan.
- Stir in the salt.
Step 2: Heat the Milk
- Gently heat the milk over low heat until it reaches 85°C (185°F) using a cooking thermometer. Stir continuously as you heat it.
- Remove the pan from heat.
Step 3: Add the Vinegar
- Stir in the white distilled vinegar just enough to mix.
- Do not overmix; a gentle incorporation is sufficient.
Step 4: Let It Rest
- Cover the pan with a lid.
- Allow the mixture to rest for about 2 hours.
- Avoid stirring during this time; it helps the curds develop.
Step 5: Drain the Curds
- Line a fine mesh colander or sieve with a double layer of muslin cloth or a fine mesh bag.
- Gently pour or ladle the mixture into the colander.
- Let it drain for 1-2 hours, depending on the desired consistency.
Step 6: Prepare for Storage
- Once drained, transfer the fresh ricotta to an airtight container.
- Store in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
- Classic Pasta: Top your favourite pasta dishes with a dollop of fresh homemade ricotta cheese. It’s delightful with tomato-based sauces or a drizzle of olive oil, lemon zest, and herbs.
- Bruschetta: Spread ricotta on toasted baguette slices, then add fresh tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a delectable bruschetta. You can add it as an ingredients to our Bruschetta Burrata for a two-cheese delight.
- Sweet or Savoury Toast: Use it as a spread on toast. For a savoury twist, add sliced avocado and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. For a sweet treat, try it with honey and fresh berries.
- Salads: Spruce up your salads by placing small spoonfuls of ricotta alongside fresh greens, or mix it into a creamy dressing for extra richness.
- Lasagne: Layer homemade ricotta in your lasagne for an extra creamy and cheesy filling.
- Dips: Create creamy dips by blending ricotta with herbs, garlic, and a hint of lemon. Perfect for vegetable sticks or pita chips.
- Stuffed Shells: Use it as a filling for pasta shells, mixing with spinach and seasonings, then bake with marinara sauce and mozzarella.
- Baked Goods: Incorporate ricotta into baked goods like cheesecakes, pancakes, or muffins for extra moisture and flavour.
- Desserts: Ricotta adds a lovely creaminess to desserts. Enjoy it in cannoli, ricotta cheesecake, or as a topping for waffles and pancakes.
- Side Dish: Serve as a side with fresh fruit or drizzle with honey for a simple and delicious accompaniment.
While it’s possible to use other milk types, whole milk provides the best results due to its fat content. Using a non-fat milk will not give you the desired end result due to the the low fat content.
Stirring can disrupt the curd formation, resulting in a grainy texture. Letting it rest undisturbed ensures a smooth ricotta.
Drain for 1-2 hours for a softer ricotta, and longer (up to 24 hours) for a drier version, depending on your preference.
The leftover liquid is rich in nutrients and can be used in various recipes like soups, smoothies, or even to bake bread in place of water.
Pro Tips and Guidance
- Use Fresh Milk: Start with the freshest milk you can find. This ensures a clean, pure flavour in your ricotta.
- Avoid Ultra-Pasteurized Milk: Ultra-pasteurized milk can lead to suboptimal ricotta texture. Opt for regular pasteurized or raw milk for the best results.
- Don’t Rush the Heating Process: Gradually heat the milk to the required temperature, around 85°C (185°F). Rushing can lead to uneven results.
- Gentle Mixing: When incorporating the vinegar (or alternative acid), stir gently. Over-mixing at this stage can lead to a grainy texture.
- Rest Without Disturbing: During the resting phase, don’t stir or disturb the milk. This allows the curds to fully develop without becoming grainy.
- Drain to Your Desired Consistency: The longer you let the ricotta drain, the drier it will become. Adjust the draining time to your preferred texture. For a creamy consistency drain for only 1-2 hours. For a firm ricotta, drain for around 24 hours.
- Storage: Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese can be stored in an airtight plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Ensure a tight seal to maintain freshness.
- Freezing: We do not recommend freezing leftover ricotta cheese. Freezing can alter its texture and result in a grainy consistency.
Check Out These Substitute Recipes
With only 2 ingredients plus water you can have your own golden syrup in no time at all. Perfect if you cannot find it in the supermarket or grocery store.
Buttermilk can be used in lots of different ways, but it isn’t usually something you’ll keep in the fridge all the time. Here is a great Buttermilk recipe you can make at home.
How To Make Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese – Easy Recipe
- 2 L Whole Milk
- 1 tsp Salt
- 40 ml White Distilled Vinegar
- Pour the whole milk into a large non-reactive, stainless steel, heavy-bottomed pan and stir in the salt.
- Gently heat the milk, stirring continuously, until it reaches 85°C (185°F) on a thermometer.
- Remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the vinegar just enough to mix it evenly.
- Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to sit undisturbed for about 2 hours. This resting time is crucial for the curds to fully develop. Avoid stirring during this period to prevent the ricotta from becoming grainy.
- After the resting period, prepare a colander by lining it with a double layer of muslin or a fine-meshed bag.
- Slowly pour or ladle the milk mixture into the colander, letting it drain for 1-2 hours based on your desired consistency, longer for drier ricotta.
- Once the ricotta has drained sufficiently, transfer it to a bowl, breaking it into the desired texture and giving it a gentle stir.
- Store the fresh ricotta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.