Even though making your own cheese at home sounds a bit daunting, this ricotta recipe is super easy and really fun to do. This cheese is delicious as an appetizer, but also works great in the filling for homemade lasagna or served with roasted mushrooms on toasted country bread. And we also love a mushroom-tomato ricotta bake. It takes about 20 minutes or so to heat the milk and cream to the right temperature and then it’s just a matter of how firm or soft you want your cheese to be that will determine the total time involved.
Whole milk makes much better ricotta than low-fat milk, and it’s best to find one that is not ultra-pasteurized. Ultra-pasteurized milk is not recommended because it has already been heated to a very high temperature of 280 degrees Fahrenheit which prevents it from curdling properly. Normally pasteurized milk has been heated to a much lower temperature of between 145 and 161 degrees. You need the curds and whey to separate for making ricotta, so just stick to normally pasteurized milk for this project! We also recently made our ricotta with non-homogenized milk and it was delicious and super creamy, but it’s difficult to find this kind of milk, and if you can’t, just stick with homogenized milk and it will work out just fine.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- 1 large pot
- 1 large colander
- 1-2 large pieces of cheesecloth
- 1 kitchen or candy thermometer
- 8 cups whole milk do not use ultra-pasteurized … see notes above
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice strain pulp out
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar can also use white wine vinegar
- In a large pot, slowly heat the milk and cream together until it reaches 185 F, stirring occasionally along the way. The best way to measure the temperature is to clip a candy or instant-read thermometer to the side of the pot when you first begin the process.
- While the milk mixture is heating, line a colander with cheesecloth and position the colander over a bowl that is slightly smaller than the colander.
- Set aside. Mix the lemon juice and vinegar in a small container and set aside.
- Once the temperature reaches 185 F, remove the pot from the heat and immediately stir in the salt.
- Slowly drizzle the lemon juice and rice vinegar over the top.
- Stir gently with a silicone spoon or spatula until the curds begin to form.
- Ladle or pour the mixture into the colander and allow the liquid to flow into the bowl underneath and the curds to remain in the colander. You may have to empty the bowl a few times so that it won't overflow back into the colander.Once you see most of the liquid flow through, roll any loose edges of cheesecloth over the top of the cheese and allow the mixture to drain until it reaches the consistency you desire. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours, depending upon how firm you like your ricotta. I've even let it drain overnight in the refrigerator. Be sure to cover the ricotta with some plastic wrap if you do this overnight.
- Store the cheese in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.