How to make Ricotta Cheese

By DK on Jan 30, 2012
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
For me, making things from scratch has been immensely satisfying, be it a phyllo/filo dough, overnight pizza dough, milk khoya or something simple like making my own pumpkin puree instead of buying canned ones. But I found it tough to continue the same pace after my little one was born. With a job and a kid, things definitely took a back seat in the kitchen for a while. But then, personally, health and well being took the front seat. The responsibility of a little one, who is dependent on me for his health, is too big for my shoulders to be taken lightly. The situation on hand and my belief being very contradictory, I started working out other ways which was beneficial - to me, on my energy and my sanity. I relied on recipes that did not make me reach out, too much for processed or factory made food where the "ingredients" section required a chemist to decipher it. Simple meals were what I relied on during that tough phase.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
Now, things are more regulated. No, I still don't have the time to make something as complex as an Austrian Apple Strudel or the energy to try something continuously for 8 times before hitting success. But I definitely have the time to make waffles, pancakes, an occasional bread and at times something from scratch that's so simple that it doesn't even seem labor intensive. Like Ricotta Cheese. Its very simple to make, doesn't need my attention most of the time and is such a dream to make. I say dream cos the cheese that you taste at the end of it, just doesn't deserve this kind of ease and simplicity. But then - Simplicity is quite hard to achieve, as my parents often tell me. :)

Note: Traditional Ricotta Cheese is made using leftover whey from making other cheeses, that use a coagulant like microbial, vegetable or animal rennet (example: Cottage Cheese, Mozzarella etc). Given that for being a vegetarian, making traditional ricotta is out of bounds since 99% of other traditional cheeses are made with animal rennet, I opt for making Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese; In which case it becomes virtually similar to the Indian Cheese - Paneer. You can make Paneer the same way as this (in which case,the salt is not required, but can be added along with spices for interesting variations). Also note that the leftover whey that you get from making Paneer cannot be used to make Ricotta, since it also uses Vinegar/lime juice.
References
recipe courtesy food and wine
Basic Information
Prep Time: 2 to 4 hours
Cook Time: Under 30 min
Serves: 3 people
Yield: Makes 3-1/2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts (1.89 liters) organic Whole Milk,
  • 1 cup organic Heavy Cream,
  • 3 tbsp white Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Method
1
In a heavy saucepan, combine milk and cream.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
2
Warm in moderately high heat
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
3
until the surface becomes foamy and steamy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the milk registers 185F°. Don't let the milk boil.

Update: I was under the assumption that the specific heat was due to the addition of Heavy cream. But turns out that you don't even need this much temperature (leave alone boiling the milk). Here is a good explanation from Serious Eats about the temperatures.
Most ricotta recipes call for heating the milk to 180°F, the temperature at which it starts to simmer. But is it really necessary to heat it that high? I tried heating pots of milk to various temperatures (every five degrees between 150°F and 190°F) before adding vinegar as a coagulant and observing the results. Guess what? Between 165°F and 185°F or so, there was no real noticeable differences in the amount of curd produced, nor the texture of the curd. So where does this particular piece of culinary you-wishdom come from? My first instinct is that it's a carry-over and misapplication from the days when custards were made with un-pasteurized milk. Back then, milk had to be heated to 180°F in order to deactivate certain enzymes that can prevent a custard from setting. These days, milk is pretty much always pasteurized (heated before packaging) so this step is unnecessary. But wait a minute! Pasteurized milk is only raised to 161°F and works perfectly well in custards. So that whole 180°F for custards rule must also be a myth. My best guess as to why many recipes arbitrarily pick 180°F? It's the point at which milk starts simmering: an easy temperature to gauge even without a thermometer. But seeing as we've all got one (you do all have an instant read thermometer, right?) We'll stick with the 165 to 185°F range, instead of aiming for that perfect 180°F.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
4
Remove the pot from the heat. Add the vinegar
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
5
and stir gently for 30 seconds;
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
6
the mixture will curdle almost immediately.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
7
Add the salt
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
8
and stir for 30 seconds longer.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
9
Cover the pot with a clean towel and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
10
Line a large colander with several layers of cheesecloth, allowing several inches of overhang.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
11
Set the colander in a large bowl.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
12
Using a slotted spoon,
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
13
transfer the curds to the colander.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
14
I am not sure why the site insisted on transferring using a slotted spoon cos after 5-6 times, I kinda felt stupid doing that and toppled the whole pan on to the cheese cloth. Saved me time and effort! (If there is a specific reason drop me a line.)  Will you just look at that glorious cheese (In India, this stage is referred to as "Chenna" and used to make many heavenly sweets)
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
15
After you had a fill of gazing at that beautiful cheese " like a lovelorn lover" (I overheard the father and son snickering after calling me so) gather the corners of the cheesecloth
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
16
and close with a rubber band. Or force the snickering husband to hold it that way for the next 30 minutes.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
17
Let the ricotta stand for 30 minutes, gently pressing
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
18
and squeezing the cheesecloth occasionally to drain off the whey. That, right there, is what Greeks (or probably someone else!) termed as "Healing Water". PLEASE DO  NOT EVEN THINK OF DISCARDING IT! If you so totally must, send it over to me. :-D.
Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
19

Now use this Ricotta for your recipes. The site mentions that the cheese keeps well for 4 days refrigerated.

Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
I usually use the whole thing to make a dish or eat it mixed it with little sweetener and vanilla extract. Or spread it on my toast with honey or ..or..I can go on and on and on. Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe The site suggests that it keeps well for 4 days packed in an airtight container. But another friend told me that hers lasted for 12 days when she made using this recipe. I think simply use your judgement and good sense of smell to decide how long your cheese keeps well for.  For something so ridiculously easy to make, this tastes like a million bucks! Step by Step pictorial for Ricotta Cheese from scratch | Fresh Cheese Recipe
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111 Responses to “How to make Ricotta Cheese”
  1. Stu Borken

    To Liz; You will be making Paneer.

  2. SAKINA

    What does one do with the water (whey)?

  3. liz

    Thanks Stu! I am such an amateur.. started a few months back with making yogurt and am now ready for the next progression of simple cheese making. and i love paneer especially grilled and paneer palak.

  4. Stu Borken

    Yes, you can leave out the heavy cream, the final cheese will just not be as creamy, it still will be a nice home made cheese. You can play with the recipe like adding herbs at the end mixing the cheese with chives, or thyme or roasted garlic salt and pepper. Have fun, make it your own. SB

  5. liz

    Hi .. could the heavy cream be omitted from the recipe? thank you !

  6. Donna

    Wonderful! I love this. Expensive, yes, but worth it. I spread it on Jacob’s Water Crackers and top with a bit of pepper relish. No one else in the house likes creamy cheese :lol: so, alas, I must finish it off myself.

  7. Stu Borken

    This is Paneer. There is no difference.

  8. suku

    This procedure is exactly like Paneer, I appreciate if you can/could pls let us know the difference .

    Thank You
    Suku

  9. Miggy

    Hi there! I just want to ask if I can use UHT milk and UHT cream to make ricotta. Thanks!

  10. Stu Borken

    To Heena; As regards the use of salt. Have you ever tasted a salt free potato chip or unsalted peanuts? They are so bland as to be undesirable. Salt adds an element of flavor to a food which enhances it’s desirability.

  11. Heena

    Is it really necessary to add salt in it? What does salt do in it? Many thanks for response .

  12. Mary Kilby

    Emmanuel,
    I should have also mentioned that I use 6 junket tablets for 2 litres of milk

  13. Mary Kilby

    Emmanuel,
    The tablet is a simple Junket tablet of which a packet can bought from Coles. Hope this helps.

  14. Stu Borken

    The tablet is called rennet and it comes as a tablet or as a liquid it can be vegetarian or animal sourced.

  15. emmanuel libreri

    could you please let me know how to make maltese cheese called gbejnit ,i was told that i can use a tablet instead of vinigar,is that right and if so please let me know the tablet name.thank you,emmanuel

  16. Stu Borken

    Goat’s milk works very well. If you are lactose intolerant just buy the drops on line and use them in the milk. If you are lactose intol. just buy Lactaid milk, but, use the whole milk.

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