Ricotta is a cheese that I always used to buy. Many years ago it would have never crossed my mind to make the effort to make it at home myself. Simply because I thought it would be too much work. There are good brands out there that sell nice and creamy ricotta cheese. But one day, years ago, I was about to buy a different brand. That was the time when I started paying more attention to the ingredients listed on the package. All I remember is a long – a way too long – list of ingredients that reminded me more of a chemical product, than a simple Italian cheese.
We can’t make everything from scratch. And even if we wanted to, it would be challenging, especially time-wise. Nevertheless, I noticed that it is much easier to prepare certain things, than we would have imagined! One of those is ricotta. It takes no longer than 30min! And, besides tasting delicious, it’s an even much bigger satisfaction to know what’s in there ;)
In Italy we buy ricotta cheese from the farmer. The little cheese baskets (that you can see in some pictures below) that come with it turned out coming in handy for the homemade version. You might find these baskets also abroad, at the farmers’ market or in a specialty cheese store. It is not mandatory though. A cheesecloth or gauze work perfectly as well.
As far as the cream is concerned, I must say that only recently my dad started adding it to the recipe, while he was trying out ways to make it as creamy as possible. And I must admit that that was probably the creamiest version of this recipe I had ever tried! Well, to be honest it’s not the lightest ricotta using whipping cream (btw, not whipped!).. So I leave it up to you, which version you prefer.
I enjoy experimenting a little and discover alternative versions. My upcoming plan is to replace the buttermilk with apple vinegar or lemon juice. I have seen some great results out there as well with these two ingredients!
2 l / 2 quarts of milk
500 ml / ½ quart of buttermilk
a pinch of salt
(alternatively: 125 ml / 4¼fl oz of liquid whipping cream)
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Set a cheesecloth inside of a strainer and place it into a bowl.
Pour the milk, the buttermilk (eventually the cream) and the salt in a pot. Bring slowly to a boil on medium heat, while you keep stirring occasionally. I recommend stirring very slowly, especially when the mixture starts heating up.
The milk will start to foam. As soon as you start seeing thick curds on the surface, splitting from the whey (the yellowish watery liquid), remove the pot from the stove and let it rest for at least 10min.
Then scoop the curds into the previously set up strainer. Alternatively you can carefully pour the mixture into the strainer. Let it drain for a few minutes.
How long and how well you drain the ricotta depends on your preference. If you want it to be more dry, you need to drain it longer and you can store it in the fridge, in a bowl with no whey. If you want it creamy, then I recommend you add some whey (enough to cover at least 1/3 of the ricotta).
Should you not eat the cheese right away, it can be stored in the fridge, covered with a plastic wrap, for approx. 3-4 days.
Little suggestions: Ricotta tastes delicious on freshly baked bread! You will love it! It is also a wonderful ingredient for desserts. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, such as stirring in some sugar, vanilla sugar or some honey, until it gets creamy. And then simply add some fresh fruit as a topping. In Italy you will find it as the main filling in the Sicilian cannoli, and in baked stuffed pasta. Just to name a few.
Prep Time: 30min
Serves 2 cups