Easy 3-Ingredient Homemade Ricotta

Easy + Delicious Homemade Ricotta

I learned how to make ricotta years ago and I haven't bought it in the store ever since! It is truly the easiest cheese you can make at home and is so versatile. It's lovely on its own, or you can add seasonings and flavors to make it sweet or savory.

All you need is about half an hour to pull it together.

Serve it warm right after making or chill for future use.

Good milk, salt + acid

I learned how to make ricotta years ago and I haven't bought it in the store ever since! It is truly the easiest cheese you can make at home and is so versatile. It's lovely on its own, or you can add seasonings and flavors to make it sweet or savory.

All you need is about half an hour to pull it together.

Serve it warm right after making or chill for future use.


Behold the power of milk!


WHAT YOU'LL NEED

 

INGREDIENTS

  • MILK: 1 Half-Gallon of whole milk, preferably organic (note: NOT ultra-pasteurized milk - very important!)
  • SALT: 1-1/4 tsp. of kosher salt (or 1 tsp. of table or sea salt)
  • ACID: 1/4 c. white vinegar or for lemon ricotta, 1/2 c. of fresh squeezed lemon juice (don't use bottled lemon juice)

TOOLS

  • large pan
  • colander or strainer
  • cheesecloth or butter muslin
  • ladle or large spoon

HEAT THE MILK

Add milk to a large saucepan and add the 1-1/4 tsp. of salt. Heat to medium and slowly heat the milk to 185F. As soon as it reaches that temperature, remove from heat and have your vinegar or lemon juice ready.


ADD THE ACID + WAIT

Add your acid of choice (1/4 c. white vinegar or 1/2 c. of lemon juice) and slowly stir it in. Right away you'll notice the milk separate - this is where the curds start to separate from the whey (the curds are what make up the cheese and the whey is the leftover liquid, which you can put to use for other purposes, more on that later!).  

And next...you wait! Set a timer for 15 minutes, put a lid on your pot and let the curds rest.


STRAIN THE CURDS AND DRAIN

Once 15 minutes has passed, it's time to drain the whey from the curds. After resting, your pot should look like the photo below:

Now onto draining the curds from the whey! You'll need cheesecloth or butter muslin (yeah, I didn't know it existed before either). If you use cheesecloth, double up the layers 4-5 to create a thicker "mesh" so the curds don't drain out between the cheesecloth holes. Butter muslin has smaller holes than cheesecloth, so you can use just 1 layer (if you even have butter muslin in your kitchen supplies).

Line a colander with your cheesecloth or butter muslin and place the colander over a large bowl.

Next, you'll take a ladle or large spoon and start spooning the curds/whey into the strainer.

Carefully spoon all of the curds/whey into the strainer until you've emptied the pot. The final curds should look like this:

The final step is to allow the curds to drain. You can let them drain on their own, but this can be a slooooowww process. I like to pull the curds up into the cheesecloth/muslin and squeeze out any excess whey. This only takes a minute or so, vs. waiting 20-30 minutes for your curds to drain on their own.

You can squeeze out a lot of the whey for a drier ricotta, or leave a little bit in there to keep it more moist. Or, if you really want to do it up, you can add a bit of heavy cream to your final ricotta to make it super rich and creamy!

Your finished ricotta will look like this!


FINAL TIPS + TRICKS

So you have a beautiful ricotta to enjoy! But you also have the leftover whey, and the original cooking pot to clean up...have tips for both of these!

Whey is the protein-rich leftover liquid from cheesemaking. Leftover ricotta whey is sweet and light tasting and can be used for quite a few purposes. My two favorite ways to use it are for smoothies and soups.

 

SMOOTHIES: It's great to add to smoothies for a bit of extra protein (note, many protein powders are based off of whey!) and won't affect the flavor of your smoothie much at all.

 

SOUPS: With Fall arriving soon, soup season will be here before we know it! I love using the leftover whey as a base for soup vs. a chicken or vegetable broth. Not only is it protein-rich, but it gives a nice light and sweet flavor to the soup.

CLEAN-UP TIME!

Okay, so this last tip might be the most important of all...how to clean up your pot an after cheesemaking. The best advice I've received: NEVER USE HOT WATER TO CLEAN UP YOUR CHEESEMAKING POT, ALWAYS USE COLD. Cheese curds can melt quickly and make clean-up a nightmare. By using cold water to scrub your pan, the curds will stay firm and easily clean up with a scrub brush. Trust me on this one, friends. 😉

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