Ricotta cheese is typically made from the whey that is leftover from making ewe’s milk cheese. This whole milk version is similar in technique, yet you can make it from milk that you pick up at the market (or farm) and it has a much higher yield than whey ricotta. Homemade ricotta is ridiculously easy to make, tastes delicious, and you control the texture; rich & creamy or drier with a more intense cheese flavor.
The ingredients are exactly as listed in Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. If you are interested in making homemade cheese, I highly recommend picking up her book; it is packed full of easy recipes, clear instructions and home-cheese making tips from farmers and cheese artisans across the country. You should also visit her excellent website, New England Cheese Making Supply Company, for lots of recipes, tips, videos and cheese making supplies.
Adapted from Whole Milk Ricotta in Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
Whole Milk Ricotta
- 1 gallon whole milk*
- 1 teaspoon citic acid dissolved in 1/4 cup of cool water
- 1 tsp cheese salt (optional) [since this cheese is not aged, iodized salt is fine to substitute]
- 1-2 tbsp heavy cream (optional)
*Generally, this cookbook recommends using the freshest milk you can find, hence this is a perfect way to support your local dairy farmer. Raw milk makes an especially delicious ricotta. If you must use supermarket milk, do not use ultra-pastureized; it has been heated to high temperatures and the curds may not separate from the whey.
- Shake milk well and pour into a large stock pot.
- Add the citric acid solution and optional salt to the milk and mix thoroughly.
- Over medium heat, bring the milk to 185 – 195 degrees F. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. This should take 10-15 minutes; if in doubt, heat more slowly to ensure that you do not scorch the milk. Do not allow to boil.
- The curds & whey will begin to separate (the milk is curdling, which is exactly what this looks like).
- When your whey is clear, turn off the heat and allow to sit, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
- Line a colander with butter muslin (or a triple layer of cheesecloth) and set the colander over a large bowl. Carefully ladle the curds into the colander, then pour the rest of the whey into the colander, to catch all of the curds. Retain the whey for other recipes (see OPTIONS).
- Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for 30 – 60 minutes, or until the cheese has reached the desired consistency. If desired, hang over the bowl of whey to catch any last drops. The cheese is ready to eat immediately. For a creamier consistency, add the cream at the end and mix thoroughly.
Yields 1.5 pounds (lower fat milk will lessen yield).
- Whey is a great substitute for milk or buttermilk in bread, muffins or pancakes. It is very nutritious, so if you have a cat or dog (or pigs or chickens), if you share the whey, they will come to enjoy cheese-making day!
Covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
I’ve made ricotta before with nothing but whole milk and lemon juice. Do you think the heavy cream makes a difference?
The cream really just makes it a bit richer and, well, creamier, for lack of a better term. 🙂 Sometimes I add it, sometimes not. Usually keep it out if I want a ‘drier’ ricotta, like for gnocchi.