homemade ricotta with honey and dried figs

homemade ricotta with honey and dried figs

Homemade ricotta cheese is surprisingly easy to make. Well, let me rephrase that a bit…making a fresh cheese very similar to ricotta is surprisingly easy.

True ricotta cheese is made from the whey obtained from mozzarella production. But you can make a very good ricotta stand-in with just three ingredients: milk, lemon juice or another acid (like white wine vinegar), and salt.

Ricotta is not cultured like most other cheeses, so it’s not at all complicated and there isn’t much work involved…do give it a try and you’ll be rewarded with a delicious fresh cheese you can use in both sweet and savory recipes.

Recipe for Homemade Ricotta Cheese
adapted from The Savory Way by Deborah Madison
Makes about 1 pint

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon milk (I used fresh raw milk from a local farm; if you can’t get or prefer not to use raw milk, try it with the best quality whole milk you can find)
  • 3 Tb. fresh lemon juice, white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar (I used white vinegar)
  • 1/2-1 tsp. Himalayan or sea salt

Directions:

Heat milk and lemon juice or vinegar over very low heat in large heavy pot. Heat to 180°F, the temperature just before boiling. You will see tiny bubbles around the edge of the pan and you’ll notice curds beginning to form.

Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Adjust your oven racks to make room for the pot and then heat your oven to 200°F for a few minutes. Turn the oven off, place the covered pot inside, and leave undisturbed for 5-6 hours.

Line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Using a finely slotted spoon or skimmer, scoop curds from pan and transfer to cheesecloth-lined colander. Season with 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Mix and taste the cheese. Add the other 1/2 tsp. salt, if necessary.

drainingricotta

You can let this drain for just a few minutes for a very soft cheese, or allow it to drain for several hours or overnight for a much firmer, dry cheese.

finishedricotta2

The whey that drains out cannot be used to make more ricotta, but it can be saved and used for baking (you can use it as part or all of the liquid in homemade bread recipes, for example)…

whey

…or if you have animals, they love to drink it.

jezwhey2

You can serve your cheese “as is”, or with a little fruit jam or fruit butter. It’s also delicious when drizzled with a little honey and served with dried figs…

figshoneyricotta2

…or with maple syrup and berries (a nice simple breakfast, snack, or dessert). You could also sprinkle it with a little raw cocoa powder and/or ground cinnamon.

You can use your homemade ricotta in recipes for cheesecakes, pumpkin ice cream, or other homemade sweets; it’s also great mixed with scrambled eggs, and of course with homemade pasta recipes. It will stay fresh for 5-7 days.

More Homemade Ricotta Inspiration From Around the Web:
Homemade Ricotta Recipe from 101 Cookbooks
Ricotta Cheese from Simply Recipes
Fresh Ricotta Cheese from Former Chef

 

4 Comments

  1. 1

    CherylK — November 8, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

    I might just have to try this! It looks very good.

  2. 2

    Lauren — November 9, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

    Yummy! I love ricotta, but never thought of making it myself =D.

  3. 3

    Pumpkin Ravioli | Healthy Green Kitchen — November 10, 2009 @ 10:00 am

    [...] you to go the all-out homemade route, I get that you might not have homemade pumpkin puree and fresh ricotta at the ready. So it’s fine to use store-bought [...]

  4. 4

    Zoe — March 19, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    Hi,
    Thanks for the recipe. Did you mean heat milk, lemon juice AND vinegar (you have it in the alternative). Also, instead of white vinegar, can I use apple cider vinegar?
    Thanks again,
    Zoe