If you have an extra 30 minute and want to elevate the level of your next snack session or even a main dish like lasagna, take a little extra time and make a fresh batch of Homemade Ricotta Cheese. It is next level in flavor and texture. Once you make this, you wont ever want to go back to the store bought stuff again.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese is soft in texture and delicate in flavor!
I always have milk, cream, salt and vinegar on hand, and if you can believe it, that is all that is required to make a batch of fresh Homemade Ricotta Cheese. I will be honest, I was told this is foolproof and it probably was, until I tried my first batch. I was a little overzealous and stirred too soon and too much and broke down my curds. So, they never formed a clumpy texture, instead I had a weird, thick, cream that I had to toss down the sink. Don’t over-stir!
When I say don’t over-stir, what I should really be saying is, making Homemade Ricotta Cheese is a pretty hands-off endeavor, which is where I went wrong in my initial attempt. First, you want to place your milk, cream and salt in a sauce pan over med-low heat (niiiiice and slow or you burn it to the bottom). You want to scald your milk. Scalding simply means bringing it almost to a boil.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese is easy to make and topped with cinnamon, honey and pistachios, makes a perfect dessert!!
You will want to stir the milk mixture for 5 or so minutes over the heat and you will begin to notice bubbles forming around the edge of the sauce pan and it will look steamy and frothy. When you get to this point, remove the milk and add your vinegar, give it one stir and then DON’T TOUCH IT (not kidding here, this is where I went wrong the first time) for 15 minutes. Turn your back and just walk away and let it sit there all alone and the curdling will begin to take place. Walk away people, just walk away and let it do its thing undisturbed.
After 15 minutes, gently stir the milk mixture with a slotted spoon and you will notice it has started to curdle and make “curds” leaving a liquid called whey. I know you have heard of this stuff, “Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey, along came a spider……blah, blah.” When I was young, I had no idea what curds and whey were and the pictures in my little books just made it look like lumpy oatmeal, but nope!! She was actually eating a bowl of RICOTTA CHEESE!! What in the world!?
Sorry to digress, after you have gotten to the curdle stage, you will line a strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth and let it sit for between 15-60 minutes to let the whey (liquid) drain out. I sometimes gently help it along by giving the cheese cloth a gentle squeeze after 15 minutes. The longer you let it drain, the firmer and “less loose” it will be. You can even put it in the fridge overnight. What is left is a soft, tender, lightly flavored ricotta cheese. I am telling you, making Homemade Ricotta Cheese is amazing!!! When I first tasted this, it made me sigh with happiness.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- 6 cups Whole milk (do not use reduced fat milk)
- 2 cups Heavy cream
- 3 tbsp white vinegar
- 1-1/2 tsp kosher, salt
- In a medium sauce pan, place milk, cream and salt and stir together. Turn heat to med-low. Stirring occasionally.
- You are trying to scald the milk, so when it looks bubbly around the edges, steamy and frothy, remove it from the heat.
- Stir in the vinegar and give it one good stir and then let it sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.
- After sitting undisturbed, stir it gently with a slotted spoon and you will see curds have formed.
- Place several layers of cheese cloth over a strainer and gently pour the ricotta into the cheese cloth and let sit for at least 15 minutes (up to 60 minutes for a firmer ricotta) and let the whey drain out.
- Then scrape the ricotta out of the cheese cloth and put in a covered bowl and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it. (It will firm up more when chilled). Enjoy!
This is where you can decide what you want to do with it. You can put it in the fridge overnight to let it firm a bit and then stir in garlic and herbs and you have a nice spread for crackers or crostini, or put it on a pizza or in a nice pan of lasagna. One of my favorites is on grilled peaches or nice juicy figs. I cut the figs in half, place a scoop of ricotta on them, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chopped pistachios and fresh torn mint leaves. Oh mama, it is FANTASTIC!!
Have you ever made Homemade Ricotta Cheese? What is your favorite way to eat it?