Ricotta cheese can be made at home with basic equipment and simple ingredients. And this creamy, delicious cheese is so much better than store-bought. Read on to learn how.
Do you ever get an idea and dive immediately into an exciting new project?
I’m a cheese lover, and I went through an enthusiastic episode a few years ago, in which I decided to learn to make my own cheese. I had visions of turning the garage into a cheese cave. Dinner guests would cheer when I placed the cheese board on the table.
So I ordered the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. And I stopped by the homebrew store for a few cheesemaking supplies, then I went through gallons and gallons of milk trying to make my own mozzarella. Home Cheese Making is a great book, full of detailed instructions. So I can’t fault the book for my difficulties with basic but all-important issues, like when to stop stirring if you actually want curds to form.
I did finally produce a few balls of mozzarella cheese, and believe me, I was as proud as an alchemist who has turned lead into gold. And I was sweaty and tired and the kitchen was a mess. We ate the cheese, and in a survival situation, I’m confident that I’ll have a skill to bring to the rest of the group in our zombie-proof compound. But the truth is, my mozzarella was nowhere near as good as what I could have just bought at the grocery store. And that truth applies to most cheeses I could try to make as an amateur…dilettante…whatever I am. It’s a skill and an art, and I decided it is best left to others who have already perfected the craft.
However! I went through another little enthusiastic episode recently, and I’m happy to report that none of the above applies to ricotta cheese, my friends. You don’t need to stop by the homebrew store for supplies. It’s so simple it’s nearly foolproof. And the results… homemade ricotta is several orders of magnitude better than the kind in the tub from the store. I’m talking eat it with a spoon good.
You won’t need much special equipment for this, but you do need a thermometer. The one I use one for making yogurt worked just fine. It’s just the simple, cheap kind of pocket food thermometer with a dial, and a little plastic sleeve to store it in. And you need some cheese cloth. That’s it.
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 2 cups buttermilk
Line a colander with cheesecloth, folded so that it is at least 4 layers thick. Place in sink.
Pour milk and buttermilk into a heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Once mixture is steaming hot (somewhere around 175 degrees), stop stirring.
When mixture reaches 185-195 degrees, curds and whey will separate. Remove from heat and allow to set, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, gently scoop curds into cheesecloth lined colander. Tie corners of cloth into a knot and hang to drain for about 30 minutes, or until cheese has reached desired consistency.
Untie cloth and pack ricotta into airtight container. Refrigerate and use within one week.
Yields about two cups.
Next: what to do with homemade ricotta cheese?