Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese is the key ingredient in several Italian dishes such as ravioli and manicotti. Unfortunately, the ricotta cheese widely available in supermarkets is made with a number of stabilizers and highly pasteurized milk, which gives it a long shelf life but kills the flavor and texture.

Making your own ricotta cheese at home is fairly easy and well worth the added effort to make better food. Note: Even if it's organic, do not use ultra-pasteurized milk for this recipe as it will not curdle properly.
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Stand: 30 min
  • Cook: 20 min
  • Total: 1 hour
  • Yields 12 ounces cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
  • ½ gallon high-quality whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Heat milk and salt in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula to ensure that the milk is not burning on the bottom of the pan. Heat until milk reaches 185°F on an instant read thermometer, about 15 minutes.
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
  • Remove pot from heat. While stirring, slowly add lemon juice and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Let milk stand for five minutes without disturbing.
  • additional lemon juice (if needed)
  • After five minutes, the milk should have separated into solid curds and translucent whey. If the milk appears to have not separated, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, stir, and let sit an additional 5 minutes.
  • Check separation again and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice if necessary. Whey should go from being a milky white to a translucent shade of yellow or blue (depending on what the cow was eating prior to being milked).
  • Once curds and whey have separated, let pot rest for 20 minutes.
  • cheesecloth
  • Line a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds onto cheesecloth. Either discard or use the remaining liquid (whey) as desired. (For example, whey can be used in place of water for almost any bread recipe to add additional flavor and depth.)
  • Using a rubber spatula, gentle fold curds onto themselves, pressing down gently to push out excess liquid. Fold and press until no more liquid runs out from strainer and the curds take on a texture of grainy cream cheese. Congratulations, you've just made ricotta cheese!
  • Use ricotta cheese immediately or transfer to an airtight container and cover surface with plastic wrap. Homemade ricotta will keep for up to three days in the fridge.
From MakeBetterFood.com. . (http://makebetterfood.com/recipes/homemade-ricotta-cheese/). Adapted from Cook's Illustrated. (September 2009.)

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