This is an incredibly rewarding DIY project! Creamy, rich, and decadent fresh homemade ricotta.
Trying to find a solid and reliable recipe for homemade ricotta can be a challenge. It’s is one of those things I’ve had to make over and over at different restaurants, sometimes with great success, and sometimes with abysmal failure. Not all recipes are foolproof, and some that are wind up being kind of dry and tasteless. Many restaurants have one single recipe they swear by and will not deviate from. I was lucky enough to have a chef at one point who simply said he wanted a creamy fresh ricotta and that I should create a good recipe!
I tried a few, some I’d done before and one or two straight off the internet to differing degrees of success. The ones that were foolproof weren’t creamy, but simply adding cream didn’t work. There are a few details that are crucial. You need something like lemon juice, buttermilk, or rennet if you want guaranteed success. Most importantly, however, is the temperature. Really get a thermometer for this recipe; it makes a world of difference if you can get that one detail right on! Eventually, I hit on one that was so successful, that restaurant is still using it today!
Fresh ricotta is absolute perfection on so many different things. If you season it with olive oil, crunchy salt, and freshly cracked black pepper, it’s fantastic on pizzas or spice roasted carrots! (I really like warm fresh cheese with roast carrots spiced with cardamom and cumin, but I just found a great recipe today that might be fun to try!) It makes a great filling for tortellini and ravioli, especially if you mix it with fresh herbs. On the other hand, if you roast or grill peaches or plums, mixing your fresh ricotta with some honey and lemon zest is astonishingly good. There’s really no reason not to have some fresh cheese on hand that you made yourself!
Rich and Creamy Homemade Ricotta: an Awesome DIY project
- 1/2 gallon buttermilk
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1/2 gallon heavy cream
- 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- salt, to taste (start with 1 Tbs)
- Combine buttermilk, whole milk, heavy cream, and 1 Tbs salt in a large non-reactive pot over very low heat.
- Very slowly heat milk to 165° (anywhere from 165°-180° is acceptable. Don't go higher than that though, you'll just get crappy ricotta.)
- Remove pot from heat. You should be able to see the curds separating from the whey.
- Gently stir in lemon juice, being careful not to break up curds.
- Carefully and gently drain the curds. I prefer to use cheesecloth over a colander, but if you're very gentle, you can use a fine-mesh strainer. The curds are what you want! If you choose, you can get rid of the liquid, or you can find a fun use for it (whey is one of those very cool healthy foods you can play with!)
- You want to drain the excess liquid, but you don't want to let it get too dry, so keep an eye on your ricotta. I usually give it about 10-15 minutes so I'm sure to have a really nice creamy ricotta, but if you're using this for a pasta filling or anything along those lines, you might actually want something much drier. This part is up to you! When you've got it the way you want it, remove from colander.
- Taste, season with salt (or any cool stuff!), and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It's never better than on the first day, so use it right away if you can!
Looking for another cool DIY project?
Check these out!