Homemade Ricotta

(From the archives: August 2010)

After making some homemade pasta with  raviolamp  and using ricotta for a filling, I was suddenly intrigued as to how to go about making my own ricotta at home. It is a simple exercise with no specialty equipment needed.  According to my Food Lover's Companion, ricotta means "re-cooked". Traditionally it is made with whey left over from making another cooked cheese, hence it's name.

The good news is for us at home, a perfectly satisfactory version of ricotta can be made with whole/full cream milk and acid - ie. vinegar or lemon juice. You will also need a pot, wooden spoon, sieve, bowl and a square of muslin (available at fabric stores for a few $'s - one meter will give you several squares of muslin for kitchen use).

Fresh homemade ricotta

Homemade Ricotta (makes between 350-500g)
Time required - 20-30 minutes
2 litres full cream milk (the creamier the milk, the more ricotta that will result)
1/2 cup cream, optional
3 tbs white vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt, optional

To start, rinse out the pot with water - this prevents scorching. Add the milk, (cream and salt if using), to a  large pot and heat over medium heat, stirring well to prevent a skin forming. Once it is nearly at a boil (steam is rising and foam is accumilating, with the odd bubble surfacing), add the acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and heat for an additional 10-20 seconds or so, stirring, to ensure the milk curdles. Try not to overcook the mixture, as the curds will be 'rubbery'.

Curdled milk, once the acid has been added
Remove from heat and set aside for a few moments while you get the draining set up ready. Dampen a square of muslin in water, squeeze out excess and use to line a sieve set over a large bowl or jug. Gently pour the curdled milk mixture into the lined sieve, capturing the whey underneath in the bowl.

Draining the curds
Depending on the texture you wish your finished ricotta to be, drain accordingly, ie. longer for a firmer cheese, less for a creamier, wetter cheese. Five to 10 minutes should be plenty of time for even a thick ricotta.  For a firm ricotta, any excess whey may be squeezed out by hand, before transferring it to a sealable container.

If desired, excess whey can be squeezed out by hand
Depending on how creamy the milk is, two litres will produce between 350-500g ricotta and around 1500mls of whey to be used in cooking or baking.

Leftover whey for cooking or baking
The good news is that milk powder also makes a perfectly usable ricotta, although the finished cheese has a milk powdery taste, so unless you're caught short and really desperate, choose fresh. The flavour of the milk really shines through in the ricotta, this is why it's good to use the best milk you can find.

Finished homemade ricotta, ready for use
The ricotta will keep for up to 7 days in a sealed container in the fridge, although it is best used fresh and as soon as possible. Beautiful for stuffing into ravioli or canneloni, as a filling in lasagne and also wonderful in desserts.

Do you like to use ricotta? What are your favourite uses for it?

Comments

  1. I have not yet tried ricotta but have seen it as an ingredient in many of the recipes I want to try...I am really keen to try making my own, thanks for sharing your recipe :)

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  2. Thanks Christine, This sounds easy. It's going on my list of things to do!

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  3. Thank you! After making my own butter, I am interested in trying other products. This looks like a good one!

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  4. i just wanted to say that i'm thinking of you..

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  5. This is one of the things I've wanted to do once we get our farm up and running, cheesemaking. I think I'd start simple like this. Thanks for sharing. Love your blog by the way!

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  6. Oh we must be on the same page - I just ordered an extra two litres of milk this week to try making ricotta. I figured with all the silverbeet in my garden I could make a really nice vegetarian lasagna. Thanks especially for the links on what to do with the whey - I'll be making use of this as well.

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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