Fresh and Extra Creamy Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Fresh and Extra Creamy Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I’ve been asked a lot how I make this cheese and here is the answer. The recipe produces very delicate and smooth ricotta. It really matters what kind of dairy you use: organic whole milk and not ultra-pasteurized cream are preferred. I also want to emphasize the importance of timing: do not overheat the milk-cream mixture, and do not let it boil. Otherwise, you will end up with tough and rubbery curd. And, please, remember that the adjective “fresh” is applicable for a couple of days only; so consume the cheese rather soon.

By the way, speaking of fresh cheese. A long time ago I posted my favorite recipe of Russian fresh cheese – tvorog (“kefir cheese” or “farmers’ cheese”) which is made from buttermilk. That one is quite good too, but in a different, very tangy way.

Makes about 1 lb

Ingredients:

  • 2 liter (½ gallon) whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream, preferably organic, pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

In a large pot combine the milk, cream, and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching, until an instant-read thermometer registers 180F. Add the lemon juice, stir. Reduce the heat to low and continue heating the mixture until the curds form (not just milk curdles – it happens immediately after the lemon juice added, but when the whey separates and the curds are obvious). But by all means, DO NOT let the mixture come to the boil. Remove from the burner and let it stand for a little while (for about 15 – 20 minutes) to cool slightly. Meanwhile, line a sieve with several layers of cheese cloth. Set the sieve over a large bowl (if you plan to keep the whey) or over the sink (if you plan to discard the whey). Transfer the cheese into the lined sieve and drain for about an hour (or longer, if you plan to use the ricotta as a filling in pies or pastries, or if any particular recipe specifies so). Transfer the cheese into a lidded container and store in the refrigerator. Consume within two days. The ricotta will firm up after several hours of refrigerating.

Note: I usually use the whey as milk substitute for making crêpes. It also can be used as a base for protein cocktails.

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45 Responses to “Fresh and Extra Creamy Homemade Ricotta Cheese”

  1. What great knowledge!! I never knew how to make ricotta, but this sounds totally doable. I can’t wait to try this!! It’s so impressive to make your own fresh cheese, and this ricotta looks absolutely delicious!

  2. Ahh.. how did you know I’ve always wanted to make my own ricotta, and all I needed was a push in the right direction! :)

  3. Ooh, I can’t wait to make this version. I’ve made ricotta with vinegar but have been wanting to make it with lemon juice instead, since I prefer the most natural ingredients possible. My ricotta was delicious but I think this recipe will be that much better. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  4. Even a picture of something as simple as ricotta is made with such style! I love your recipes and pictures :)
    I always make my own cheese (tvorog) and I always wondered how ricotta was different from our native “tvorog”. From what I understand ricotta will taste just like fresh milk only concentrated? Same as tvorog tastes like buttermilk only concentrated? By the way, do you by any way know how to make russian style “будз”?
    That is if you know what it is, if you don’t, I can describe it to you, to see if you’ll understand what I am talking about.
    I am not sure if they have “russian” stores where you live, but they usually sell those. “будз” tastes like fresh tvorog only pressed, with somewhat rubbery textrure. Oh and you can also slice it (it is similar to fresh mozarella).I believe it is made with addition of rennin to the milk.
    Please tell me you know how to make it or at least where to find the recipe for it :(
    Thank you Vera!

  5. I often prepare this at home, using either lemon juice or apple vinegar. It is richer than a real ricotta (that is made with the whey left during cheese process), has a much deep flavour, and is great for sweet and savory recipes. I usually don’t use cream, but I’ll try as you do, to get a smoother texture.

  6. I’ve been wanting to do this also for a long time. Must be way better than any store bought kind!

  7. Thanks for posting the recipe, I can’t wait to try this!

  8. Wow who would have thought that homemade ricotta was something I could actually make in my very own little kitchen! Thanks so much for the recipe. I might actually give this a try!

  9. Someday, someday I’ll make ricotta… It looks wonderful and so easy!

  10. Thank you so very much for the recipe!

  11. Homemade ricotta!!1 so nice!!!

    Ana

  12. Thank you for the recipe. I am very interested in cheese making. So this will be my first one. It looks incredible.

  13. Wow, that’s great! I’m keeping this recipe!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  14. Thank you! I made it once, but the recipe wasn’t good. I’ll try yours :)

  15. How cool – I really want to try this!

  16. YAY Vera. Bless you girl. I knew this was about to come!! Bookmarked!! xoxoxo

  17. This recipe looks heavenly! Unfortunately in Greece I cannot get hold of any cream that isn’t ultra-pasteurised. Will it really make a greta difference?

  18. Wow, I’ve never tried making my own cheese but it sounds relatively simple! I’m bookmarking this!

  19. This is most interesting. In India, we make a cheese called “Paneer” at home exactly like this, but without adding the cream.

  20. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Vera. I can’t wait to try this. I made ricotta cheese last December, following the recipe in the Dec/Jan issue of Bon Appetit. It also had lemon juice in it, no cream. I think your version will be much much better, especially given the instructions on how *not* to boil the milk.
    PS: I wonder if Tvorog isn’t similar to or even the same as Quark (available in Europe a lot). I love Quark. Do you know?

  21. Thank you all for your kind comments! And I’m so glad you found my post interesting enough :) Sorry, I didn’t answer your questions right away; I was quite busy.

    Marina, you are absolutely right about ricotta. It doesn’t have tvorog’s tang; I often add some sour cream to my ricotta to compensate :)
    Unfortunately, I don’t know how to make “будз”. I know what you are talking about; I’m pretty sure it’s made with addition of rennet and pressed. I have a couple of recipes in my old book of Caucasian cuisine but I’m not sure if it’s the thing. I’ll try to figure something out and will certainly let you know.

    FoodJunkie, you will still get a delicious cheese :)

    Hanaa, yes they are similar. Traditionally, they both are made from sour milk and not buttermilk. I tried adding lactic acid bacterias to the milk before, but found it’s rather time-consuming and more expensive process. The end result from both methods was basically the same.

  22. This is fabulous, Vera! Thank you so much for the recipe!
    I wonder if the same method would also work for goat’s milk, to make fresh goat’s cheese? I might also give that a try because we can get fresh milk from the goat farm down the road from here…
    Thanks again! :)

  23. Wow, your recipe looks so simple. Even I could make it. hehe

  24. Vera, thanks you for this recipe. I have never had a source for fresh ricotta and this will be very helpful. I have a question, though about using skim or low fat milk instead of whole milk. Since I have been told to take off 50 pounds by my doctor, I have to watch what I eat very carefully, and whole milk is verboten….

    Thanks,

    Kate

  25. You don’t need a starter to do this! I am SO EXCITED! Perhaps you may know….I’ve been wanting to make my own buttermilk. Do you know how to do that?

  26. Sherry, thank you very much! Sure, the goat milk will work as well.

    Cory, thank you :)

    Kate, you are very welcome! Technically, you can use low fat milk here. But I personally don’t like the flavor (to be more precise – its absence) of the low fat ricotta. Low fat buttermilk is not so bad. So, I’d recommend to make tvorog (farmer’s cheese) from the low fat buttermilk. I’ve done it before and loved the result. But the cheese from the buttermilk is more acidic (which I love but I don’t know your opinion on this :)

    Joie de vivre, the buttermilk is very doable but, as I’ve heard, for the best result you will need a bacterial starter to do so. It can be purchased at http://leeners.com/cheesesupply.html#buttermilk. Then you can reuse some of the freshly made buttermilk as a subsequent starter.

    But I also found this recipe on the internet. So, now I’m thinking maybe good quality, perhaps organic, store-bought cultured buttermilk could be a starter.

  27. Vera, thanks for getting back to me on the Quark comment. I look forward to trying both recipes (your ricotta recipe and the one for Tvorog).

  28. I know that “будз” is definitely made with the addition of rennet which I have, but I have no recipe to make the cheese. I would really appreciate it if you found the time to look through that book, as I have no idea whatsoever how to make it, even though I would really like to.

    Thanks for your reply.

  29. Hanaa, you are very welcome!

    Marina, as soon as I get some time, I’ll type and e-mail you the recipe from my book. You’ll be able to experiment on your own :)

  30. Vera,
    I finally had a chance to make the ricotta last night. The recipe for this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays challenge requires 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese and I just had to make your recipe. I cut the recipe in 4 which yielded a little over 1/2 cup of ricotta. I can’t thank you enough for the recipe and your wonderful instructions. The ricotta was smooth and creamy, even though I used 2% milk (I’ve made ricotta using whole milk from a different recipe and it was rubbery and hard, and not as creamy as yours, so your instructions are definitely the reason why it worked so well). I’m excited to use the ricotta in the pastry (turnovers with caramelized apples and ricotta filling). Will post it on Sunday.

  31. Hanaa, I’m so glad!

  32. Hi there Vera. The ricotta is draining & i couldn’t stop myself from spooning a few into my mouth. I used full fat milk…& it is gorgeous! Thank you…

  33. Deeba, thanks for letting me know! I’m happy you liked it!

  34. This does make the best ricotta Vera. Made it again 2 days ago for a family get together. Used it in chicken lasagna…& everyone loved it! Thanks again!!

  35. making ricotta now!!!

  36. I have been experimenting with raw milk and this recipe looks so simple. I will definitely give it a try! I have been making my own kefir and from that I can make kefir cheeses without rennet. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  37. For the last little while I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing several great and informative food blogs.
    However…I have to tell you how impressed I am with yours.
    Vera…as a side note…I’d like to inform you that in my post tomorrow I you will be sharing your version of making homemade fresh Ricotta.
    If you do end up reading the article…it will all become clear to you.
    All this has brought me to discover your blog…I’m thrilled and will from now on keep following your journey.
    All the very best and flavourful wishes, Claudia

  38. I was very excited to try this at home. I am not an experienced cook yet by any means so maybe you can help me figure out what I did wrong. For some reason, my ricotta did not firm up even after refrigerating overnight. I used the exact ingredients. I let it drain for awhile, over an hour. Did I not wait long enough for the curds to form? I left it on low heat for awhile because I couldn’t tell if it was ready or not. Do you have any tips? Like I said, not very experienced and still learning, and very much open to tips and help with my cooking. :)
    Thanks!

  39. Renee, it looks like you haven’t heated it long enough. Did you use a thermometer? And it’s also advisable to cool the mixture before draining. You can now dump everything back in a pot and start again, don’t throw it away.

  40. This is brilliant! I just made this and it turned out exactly as you said it would. Thanks for posting!! Cheers!

  41. I have been making this recipe of yours for the past year or so…it is the best I have come across, and I have tried ‘em all!
    The problem is I love it so much, I am making it twice a week! and, great idea about using the whey as a milk sub in making crepes or blini. Those I make a few times a week as well.
    Was wondering if you have ever made Mascarpone and if you have, can you print it for us?
    Thanks so much!

  42. Deinse, I am glad you liked it!

    I have made Mascaspone and it’s posted here: http://www.bakingobsession.com/2009/05/02/homemade-mascarpone-cheese/

    Make sure to use a stainless steel bowl. It conducts heat better. For some people it took longer to heat until the required temperature.

  43. I make this with farm fresh milk, and curdle it with yoghurt and vinegar… :)

  44. This was excellent. I’ve made other recipes, but never read to keep the temperature down, and you are right – this is creamy and great. Thank you.

  45. […] it can easily made at home, that too with readily available ingredients. I found the recipe at Baking Obsession. I have been following this recipe for quite some time […]

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