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Creamiest and Easiest Homemade Ricotta

Creamiest and Easiest Homemade Ricotta

Renée Robinson

I Never Went Back to Store-Bought After Tasting This.

Ever since making ricotta for the first time, I’ve never bought it again. While I fully understand this is not authentic ricotta, which is made from whey, it’s so much better than any you can buy at your local grocery store, I don’t quibble over its authenticity. Both the texture and flavor are worlds apart from any that come in those plastic tubs. Local Italian markets sometimes sell excellent ricotta, but barring easy access to one of those stores, I make my own.

In the beginning, I toyed with different methods of achieving those luscious creamy curds. Acid is necessary and I like using buttermilk much more than lemon juice. I think the flavor and texture are much better. And in order to get the truly rich, almost buttery flavor I wanted, cream is also essential. I came upon a recipe at Food52 from Jennifer Perillo and with only a minor tweak of the ingredients, it is essentially how I’ve been making it for the last decade.

But I have changed the technique in order to make it even easier than the way in which it was originally written. I make ricotta several times a year. I always double the amounts of ingredients because I don’t see the point in making such a small batch. And while I will include a link to the original recipe, I will also write out my own recipe and explain my technique.

The only way you can end up with a less than desirable result is if you stir it too much. The curds won’t develop properly and it will fail. But no worries. I’ll include specific directions as to when to stop stirring and success is assured. Here’s a photo of what it will look like when it’s time to take it off the heat and let it sit for awhile before straining.  

Bubbling Ricotta ove Heat

I also eliminated the step of straining the ricotta through cheesecloth. On a whim, I once tried straining it through a fine meshed strainer and was thrilled it worked perfectly. No curds were lost and there was no need for bringing out the cheesecloth. So, as easy as it was to begin with, it got even easier.

Strainer

What do I do with all this ricotta? Well, besides eating it by the spoonful, which I dare you to resist, I find that I like it it best when it’s not cooked any further in a recipe. Other than adding it to a cake batter, I always opt to serve it as is. Whether it’s spread on toast with a drizzle of honey or jam, used as a base on crostini with tomatoes, or simply served as a big dollop added to a plate of meatballs or a bowl of pasta, I never have any of it go unused. I always end up scraping the bowl in order to get that last bit. This time I used some of it in a buckwheat crepe/galette which I will post later on in the week. 

One other thing I find not to be true is the recommendation that it must be eaten within three days. Nope to that. It easily lasts for a week. I’ve never had it go bad on me or had the quality suffer. It tastes perfect until the last bite.

Creamiest and Easiest Homemade Ricotta

Recipe by Renée Robinson

Creamy Ricotta Made with Milk, Cream, and Buttermilk.

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Ingredients

  • 8 cups 8 whole milk

  • 2 cups 2 heavy cream

  • 2 cups 2 buttermilk

  • 1 teaspoon 1 fine sea salt

Directions

  • Stir all ingredients in a Dutch oven (I use a 6 quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven). Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until it starts steaming. At that point, only stir one more time. The temperature will register approximately 155 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Please resist the urge to stir the pot. It is unnecessary and can impede the curds from forming. I know this from firsthand experience.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook until the curds separate from the whey, and the liquid bubbles. The temperature will be around 200 - 210 degrees. Reduce the heat to the very lowest setting and let it continue to bubble for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit undisturbed for at least a half hour. I let mine sit for about an hour.
  • Set a fine meshed strainer over a large bowl. Using a ladle, gently scoop out the curds and place them in the strainer. I scoop out about 3 full ladles at a time. Let the curds drain for about 30 seconds and then tip them into a medium bowl. Repeat this process until all the curds have been removed from the pot. By using this method of reducing the heat incrementally as it cooks, you should end up with no scorched milk on the bottom of your pot.
  • Don’t drain the curds for too long, unless you’re aiming for really dry ricotta. I like mine creamy. And keep in mind the ricotta will thicken as it chills.
  • Cover the ricotta and chill for several hours. Enjoy!

Equipment

  • Fine meshed strainer
  • 6 quart Dutch oven

Notes

18 Responses

  1. Sorry, Renee, I just googled it with whey and got that part….eliminate that sentence from the comments?

    1. Glad to hear you found what you were looking for. No worries because I have no experience using whey for making ricotta. I’d like to hear about it if you decide to go that route, Karen!

      1. Well, I can tell you that previously frozen whey isn’t working. I’ll try again next time I make yogurt. Sigh. I hate cooking fails. Still gonna use it for bread. Probably. Maybe…

        1. Karen, I feel for you because I hate cooking fails, too. As I explained, I have no experience making it from whey. Wish I could have helped. Sorry.

          1. Hi! Made a half recipe of the ricotta this morning, because hubs isnt sure and he loved it. Will probably make a half cake cuz its only us and we don’t need more cake. Lol. It is blueberry season, and we can pick on Saturday, according to the place. If so, gonna use ginger and lemon in the syrup. I’ll let you know how whatever I try works out. Lol. Thanks!!

          2. Hi, Karen! So happy you both like the ricotta. I love it, too. The blueberries will be fantastic in this, along with the lemon and ginger syrup. I can’t wait to hear how you enjoy the cake. Have fun berry picking!!

  2. Hi, Renee!! I have a couple of questions. I saw your Cassata cake on MS and am going to make an orange version, as the hubs doesn’t like peaches. Sad day. Anyway, I have two questions. First, when you say buttermilk, do you mean buttermilk from the store or can you make it with vinegar and milk? And, I have looked at other recipes and I don’t see whey? I have whey from making yogurt, but don’t know…. Second, what is the yield on this recipe? The cake needs 4 cups. Will this yield 4 cups? Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi, Karen! As to your question about the buttermilk, no, you shouldn’t attempt this with vinegar and milk. You want buttermilk from the store. I’m able to buy full fat buttermilk and it contributes a great deal to the overall flavor of the ricotta. My recipe makes 4 cups, so it’s the perfect amount for the cake. You can also make this cake with strawberries. I’ve done a strawberry version in which I use limoncello in the syrup, rather than the peach liqueur. It’s quite delicious with strawberries. I didn’t use the pistachio oil or the basil for the strawberry version. I can’t wait to hear how your orange version turns out. It should be delicious!

    1. Dawn, it’s a wonderful idea. I’ve done it. It will be one of the best lasagnas you’ve ever made. I promise.😊

  3. I am going to try this, Renee. I have always used Deb Perelman’s recipe with good results, but i think this one might be even better!

    1. Hi, Sandy! Please let me know what you think. I’m interested in how you think the techniques compare. I tried her technique one time years ago, but found I much prefer the one I use. I think it’s a lot less fussy. And I like the flavor of the buttermilk in it, too. 😊

  4. I love your instructions and the why’s and why not
    Best recipe to date because of how you explain your experience!

    1. Thank you so much, Marilyn!! I’ve seen recipes for it that are so silly in their instructions, I decided to explain how truly simple it is to make. And delicious?? Oh, yes!!

  5. I make my own too. So delicious and economical. I’ve also frozen it with success. I’ll eliminate the cheesecloth going forward!

    1. Hi, Mary!!! Yes, there is NO comparison between homemade and supermarket ricotta, is there? And it’s so easy, right? As long as you’ve got a really fine meshed strainer, no need for the cheesecloth at all. I’ve never frozen it, so I’m glad to know it works. Thanks!!

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