I grew up with farm fresh homemade ricotta thanks to my grandmother and great aunt; I can vividly remember seeing tasty logs of it refrigerating. I was like a kid in a candy store, sneaking a taste whenever I got the chance…it was that good!
On my own I had made a ricotta-like cheese, but didn’t always want to take the time…due to other interests in my younger years. But, after seeing a recipe on Food52:
I was inspired to make it myself again, and after my first taste I was quickly reminded that finding time to make homemade is so worth it!
During cheese making the soft white curds rise to the top, separating, leaving the whey underneath, a watery liquid that most people dump. FACT: there are a variety of uses for the watery whey, AND…traditionally, ricotta is made by reheating the whey by-product from certain hard cheeses. But a ricotta-like cheese can also be made by extracting curds from milk – now days a popular method for many home cooks.
This ricotta posting is about making a homemade ricotta-like cheese by extracting curds straight from milk.
SPECIAL NOTE: My mission was to create as close to the taste I remembered growing up; buttermilk is the key – a larger ratio will give the ricotta more of a savory cheese taste, and that is perfect for the recipes I like to use ricotta in.
Makes about 16 ounces
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large thick bottom pot
- Candy thermometer
- Colander with a triple layer of cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel; fit over another deep pot
- Combine the milk, buttermilk, cream and salt in a large, a heavy-bottomed pot and place over medium heat and attach the thermometer.
- Heat the milk on medium high, to a gentle simmer.
- Once the milk is very hot, 175-180 degrees, it will start to curdle around the edges of the pot. When you see this, let cook 2 more minutes and then turn off the heat.
- Let the pot sit there, undisturbed, for 20-30 minutes.
- Soft chunks of white curds will rise to the top, leaving the whey underneath.
- With this recipe, the whey is watery but milky-white with a pleasant, taste and aroma (kinda like skim milk), so I don’t discard. Instead, if used within a couple days, I add it to recipes calling for milk, such as, sauces, soups, smoothies, or breads, otherwise I freeze it in one cup containers, for a later use.
- *See “Curds & Whey” located under the cheese category, or click on the blue link at top of this page – for uses.
- Anyway, using a wire-mesh skimmer or large slotted spoon, gently lift the curds off into the colander, leaving as much of the whey behind as possible. Go slow – try not to break up the curds too much. When you’ve transferred them all, pour off the whey, to salvage any curds that are stuck to the bottom.
- Let the cheese drain for about half an hour or until the draining slows.
- Before placing in an airtight container, squeeze the ricotta inside the cheesecloth to remove any excess water.
- Pack the ricotta into a covered container and store in the refrigerator. It’s at its best during the first 3 to 4 days, but it will keep for about a week.