Creamy Homemade Ricotta

By • April 22, 2011 • 117 Comments

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Author Notes: My friend Maggy, of Three Many Cooks, recently dubbed me the Queen of Ricotta. She's definitely onto something. Since first blogging the recipe a year and a half ago, it has been made in kitchens from coast to coast, and as far away as New Zealand.

I put up a pot at least once a week, and find many uses for it daily, from a simple bruschetta, drizzled with truffle honey, a dollop in steel cut oats and even a smear on pizza, speckled with bits of smoky bacon and roasted onions.

Rather than leave my mark with just one recipe for one meal, I'd like to know I'm part of my friends' and family's everyday eating habits when I can no longer cook for them myself. - Jennifer Perillo
Jennifer Perillo

Food52 Review: WHO: Jennifer Perillo. Known to friends as "Queen of Ricotta". Her Majesty of Dairy writes about life and food at http://www.injennieskitchen.com/
WHAT: Milky and luscious homemade ricotta
HOW: Buttermilk, whole milk and heavy cream. A pinch of salt. Wait. Strain.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This recipe makes the entire kitchen seem conquerable. With just one stir of the pot, and a few minutes of wait time you have actually made cheese! After the initial swell of pride fades, you're left with a good amount of one of the most versatile of refrigerator staples -- spread it on toast for breakfast, stir it into pasta at lunch, or enjoy it as its original Community Pick recipe-tester theediblecomplex does, spoonful by spoonful.
Food52

Makes 2 cups

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Add the ingredients to a 4-quart pot. Bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.
  2. Once the curds begin to separate from the whey (you'll see little specks of white bob to the surface), stir gently and set heat to the lowest setting (see NOTE). Cook for 2 more minutes, then remove pot from heat and set on an unlit back burner for at least 30 minutes, and up to one hour. (this will help the curds further develop).
  3. Gently ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer (this helps produce a fluffier, creamier curd, than pouring it into the strainer). When all the curds have been spooned into the bowl, pull the cheesecloth up the sides to loosely cover the ricotta in the strainer. Let sit for 10 minutes to drain (this will yield a very moist ricotta. If using for a cake recipe, you may want to let it drain longer for a drier consistency).
  4. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  5. NOTE: After making one to two pots of ricotta for a year, I've learned it likes to be left alone to produce the highest yield, so resist the temptation to stir it frequently once the curds begin to separate from the whey. One stir is enough, and if you're curious, you can dip the spoon in the pot once or twice to see how the curds are developing.
Jump to Comments (117)

Comments (117) Questions (18)

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about 1 month ago sususkitchen

Grazie,molto gentile

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about 1 month ago sususkitchen

I was going to buy The New Mediterranean Diet cookbook, but I discovered I already have it and there is no ricotta cheese recipe in there. I'll stick to this recipe. It works for me. Italians are great at improvising. It beats the supermarket.

Stringio

about 1 month ago Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Nancy is a food writer, historian, and author of many books, her most recent being Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin.

sususkitchen, there's no ricotta recipe in the New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for the same reason that there's no recipe for parmigiano reggiano or pecorino. Ricotta, in the Mediterranean (and especially in Italy and Greece) is not something you make in your kitchen. It's something you buy from a cheese maker or a shop. Mediterranean kitchens use loads of genuine ricotta, but they don't often use this recipe for curdled milk. As I said, delicious it may be, ricotta it ain't!

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about 1 month ago Elaine Corn

Indeed, the "ricotta" means cooked again, and the original is made from whey. Here, from the New England Cheesemaking Supply, is an explanation about why the home cook with no access to whey may make ricotta with whole milk. You'll find instructions both for whey and whole-milk choices. http://www.cheesemaking...

Stringio

about 1 month ago Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Nancy is a food writer, historian, and author of many books, her most recent being Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin.

I hate to disillusion you all, including our stalwart leaders at Food52, but THIS IS NOT RICOTTA!!! It is curdled milk and it might be super nice but it is NOT RICOTTA. Ricotta is an Italian word that means re-cooked and it describes what happens when the whey that is leftover from cheese making is re-heated, (ri-cotta). The residual proteins clump together and make, voila, ricotta. (I get extremely grumpy about this because I love Italian food and food products and we Americans have an awful habit of trying to short-change the great traditions and ricotta is one of them.) Anyone who has ever tasted freshly made sheep's milk ricotta in Tuscany or Sicily or Puglia will quickly tell you there is a difference. And it is enormous!

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about 1 month ago Kristy Morrill

Thanks for telling it like it is! We all need to be aware of food and it's basic history!

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about 1 month ago dymnyno

I tried explaining this once to Jennifer Perillo but she is such an expert she ignored me.

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about 1 month ago cucina di mammina

This is very true... My famiglia in Lazio makes real "ricotta", the recipe I use is made from organic milk only, no heavy cream or buttermilk and its a nice version of homemade ricotta for me to make here at home in the states. I too try to stick to the authentic and real ingredients from my famiglia and the people of Italia who work hard to keep a high level of product & technique :)

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about 1 month ago catalinalacruz

Mexico's version of ricotta cheese is known as requeson, and it, too, is made from whey.

Stringio

about 1 month ago enthous

Has anyone tried using reconstituted powdered buttermilk? I keep it on hand all the time for baking. The container says "cultured".

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2 months ago skenny89

Perfect Recipe, I always use this one when I make the famous ricotta gnocchi on this site

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4 months ago sususkitchen

Well, being Michelin de faux, I give this 5 spoons! I found this last Saturday and I'm on my 4th small "batch". Try a little layer of lemon curd in a shot glass, ricotta, strawberries or blueberries, repeat......................

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6 months ago Gourmel

Please help! I tried this for the second time and again got hardly any ricotta and big pot of milk/cream. I followed the directions and after coming away with less than a tablespoon of ricotta, I reheated and started from scratch, letting it boil well after it "tented" and puffed up (a good 20 minutes or so longer) and still ended up with maybe 1/8 cup. I'm using Trader Joes whole milk and heavy whipping cream. Can someone please tell me what I'm doing wrong?

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5 months ago Judith Roud

What sort of buttermilk are you using? Does it say "cultured"? And is that milk from TJ's ultra pasteurized? Or just pasteurized. You don't want to use ultra pasteurized milk or cream.

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5 months ago Gourmel

It's just pasteurized (not ultra) and for the buttermilk I mixed ¾ cup milk with ¾ tbs lemon juice and let it sit for 30 min before starting.

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5 months ago Judith Roud

Melanie, there's your problem. There isn't enough acid in the "substitute" buttermilk you are using. Either go get real buttermilk, or use fresh, plain yogurt. Or do a web search for a recipe that uses just lemon juice or vinegar to coagulate the curds. Your substitute will work for baking, but not for this. Plus buttermilk or yogurt adds a layer of flavor you don't get when you make ricotta with just an acid like lemon or vinegar. Hope this helps.

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5 months ago Gourmel

Ah ok! I had read that you can use a 1 cup : 1 tbs ratio since I don't usually have buttermilk on hand but I'll pick some up and try again. Thank you so much for your help!

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5 months ago Judith Roud

If you don't use the whole quart of buttermilk right away, you can freeze it in half-cup portions to use in baked goods. I don't think the buttermilk, once frozen will do a good job on a subsequent batch of ricotta, though. Remember good, fresh plain yogurt works fine, too. Good luck!

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5 months ago Gourmel

Not sure if supermarket yogurt qualifies as "fresh" so I'll probably give the buttermilk a try. Thanks for the tip about freezing and all of your help!

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6 months ago natjanewoo

I have made this ricotta over a dozen times now, and every time it is perfect. A question: Would it be alright to use a lid, in order to speed up that first initial heating? We are making lots of it, and on our electric stovetop it takes an hour or more for the curds to bob to the surface. Thank you so much.

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8 months ago Judith Roud

Just made this again, and since I didn't have any buttermilk, I used 3/4 cup of plain yogurt. Worked fine, and plain organic yogurt doesn't have all the additives that most commercial buttermilk products have, even the organic ones.

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6 months ago cucina di mammina

I like this idea! thanks for sharing as I do not like buttermilk for the fat content and preservatives either. Great idea.

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9 months ago sbw57

After hesitating on making this I finally did & I don't know what I was dreading. It came out just fine even though the milk burned a little on the bottom. Can't wait to use it in lasagna.

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10 months ago vlucky

I forgot to mention that I used 2% milk and low-fat Half & Half instead of cream. The result was delicious. When making a double batch be sure to leave the flame rather low or the milk will burn on the bottom before it boils.

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10 months ago vlucky

Love this! I agree with all the positive comments about the ricotta and the whey. I used the whey for making jasmine rice in the rice cooker and the result was phenomenal. If you make as double batch, be sure to let it pillow as was already advised in previous comments.

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10 months ago KOKelley

Love this method and make it quite often...it is so easy and delicious. I like to make a big batch and work my weekly dinners around it.

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2 months ago sususkitchen

Yes, but how big is your weekly batch? Mine never makes it to dinner, if not, its maxed out @24 hours.

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11 months ago underthebluegumtree

My first time ever making ricotta and it has turned out perfectly. Despite only having thin cream I got a nice yield (probably slightly more than 2 cups). I used a new linen napkin instead of cheesecloth and left to drain for 1 hour. It tastes so good that I was scraping the napkin with a spoon to savour every last bit!

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about 1 year ago cucina di mammina

I find your recipe very interesting as our famiglia's traditional recipe for homemade ricotta is made only with the freshest organic whole cow's milk ( I much prefer the flavor of fresh milk from my family's farm in Sora, Italia as it tastes of grass and fresh air.)

I will try your unique version soon as I am curious to see what the heavy cream and buttermilk add to both the flavor and texture of the final product.

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6 months ago Uriah

Why not post your famiglia's oh so traditional recipe in light of this oh so interesting and unique version? Regale us with the secrets of old Italia.

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6 months ago cucina di mammina

It is has posted here on Food52 under my recipe file. You will find it thereof you'd like to try it for yourself. I always try to find the freshest milk possible at a local farm in my area for best results. Thanks for your interest.

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6 months ago Uriah

Is the recipe within another? I can't find any recipe that's simply ricotta on your profile.

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6 months ago cucina di mammina

Yes Uriah, it's listed with my heirloom tomato Bruschetta recipe. The recipe in my file is from Extra Virgin as this is exactly how my grandmother and mother made ricotta in Italy but they had no written recipe or exact measures for me to share.

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over 1 year ago plato

This is almost how you make the home made cottage cheesein India, the one that is called PANEER (the one used in saag paneer). Just bring the milk to a boil (any fat content you choose, I prefer whole milk). Bring it to a boil, add the buttermilk (or lemon juice, or even white vinegar will work). As soon as you see the soilds separate & kind of clear liquid, turn the heat off & strain through a cheese cloth. You can use the cottage cheese to make a sort of scrambled curry at this point, or use it to make cutlets or filling for any of the multitdes of Indian (or even veg version of the western)pastries, or, weigh it down for 30-40 min, & then cut it into cubes & use it as it is or fried, to make palak paneer or matar (green peas) & paneer or the various paneer recipes from the Indian cuisine. The whey, I usually use it to knead the dough for chapatis, or as liquid for the various gravies & lentils that I make from the scratch.

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over 1 year ago dymnyno

You are right. Ricotta is made from why, not whole milk. This "ricotta" whatever it is called or who claims to have invented the recipe is delicious!

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over 1 year ago GreenSageCaters

Cream-line milk is the way to go. They have this at Whole foods and some local grocer markets. Although straight up from the cow raw milk is always the best (just make sure you aren't selling your cheese).

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over 1 year ago LCCCC

Organic milk doesn't work well when making cheese. It has that long shelf life because it gets some sort of Parmalot treatment. Try using just regular old non-organic milk for a higher yield.

Don't toss that whey, either. Use it as all or part of your liquid next time you make bread or rice.

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over 1 year ago natjanewoo

Thank you for the tip! The second time around I used non-organic milk and received double the yield.

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over 1 year ago LCCCC

You're very welcome. Bummer to realize that expensive organic milk is ultra-pasteurized.

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over 1 year ago Chocolate Be

Not all organic milk is ultra-pasteurized; some is and some isn't. You have to read the label. For example, Organic Valley brand makes both ultra-pasteurized and just regular pasteurized. Some stores carry both types, some just the ultra-pasteurized. Whole Foods stores usually have some of both. It's on the label on the front of the carton.

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about 1 month ago enthous

Wow, all we use is Organic Valley. I never noticed the difference. I have 2 cartons in the fridge right now, one is pasteurized, one is ultra. Thank you!

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about 2 years ago LoCooks

Hi! I made this recipe over the weekend, and read all of the comments to pick up any tricks/nuances to make sure it worked. I waited for it to pillow up like a tent, let it wait for an hour before straining, and ladled rather than poured...The results were delicious, but the yield was only 3/4 of a cup in total...did anyone else have this experience? Where might I have gone wrong?