Homemade Ricotta Cheese

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Please welcome author, pastry chef, and delightful raconteur David Lebovitz of DavidLebovitz.com who shares with us his way of making homemade ricotta cheese. If you haven’t yet picked up David’s latest book The Sweet Life in Paris you’re missing out! ~Elise

With so many fabulous cheeses made in France (where I live) I guess there’s not the need to import more from elsewhere. But for those of us that occasionally make recipes calling for a large amount of ricotta, there aren’t any 2-pound tubs available, just tiny plastic containers in the supermarket. You can find very good ricotta by taking a trip to an Italian épicerie, although if you need a large quantity, you’ll quickly find yourself headed for the maison des pauvres. (The Poor House.)

Making ricotta really is easy and for the price of a quart or two of milk, you can have a lovely mound of freshly-made, still-warm ricotta with very little effort. Homemade ricotta makes a wonderful base for Italian cheesecakes, ravioli fillings, and lasagna. I like to serve a spoonful of this with sliced fresh fruit; peaches, nectarines, or berries are lovely, along with a drizzle of honey. It also make a nice accompaniment to a stewed apricot compote, fresh or ripe figs, or poached dried fruits in the winter.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese Recipe

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  • Yield: Makes 2 cups.

I always use whole milk yogurt, but if you do try it with low-fat yogurt, please let me know in the comments how it works out. I don't recommend non-fat yogurt for this recipe. This recipe can easily be halved or doubled.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

1 In a large pot, bring the milk, yogurt, heavy cream (if using), vinegar, and salt to a boil. Very gently boil for one to two minutes, until the milk is curdled.

2 Meanwhile, line a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl.

3 Pour the milk mixture into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and squeeze gently to extract any excess liquid.

Storage: Homemade ricotta is best served slightly warm, although it can be refrigerated for up to three days, if desired.

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Ricotta photo by David Lebovitz.

Links:
To Make Ricotta from Whey - by David Fankhauser
Making ricotta cheese using only whole milk and buttermilk - recipe from Sam Breach of Becks and Posh
Homemade ricotta - similar recipe with whole milk and buttermilk from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks
Ricotta made with whole milk, salt and lemon juice from Apples and Butter
Ricotta made with whole milk, cream, salt, and lemon juice from Baking Obsession
Make Ricotta at Home from A Chow Life
How to make ricotta at home using rennet - from Saveur
Homemade Chevre and Feta - from PurpleHouseDirt

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Showing 4 of 75 Comments

  • Erika

    Is it possible to make ricotta using lactose-free milk? My husband is lactose-intolerant and while he can eat hard cheeses, soft cheeses such as this give him trouble.

  • Erika

    Is it possible to make ricotta using lactose-free milk? My husband is lactose-intolerant and while he can eat hard cheeses, soft cheeses such as this give him trouble.

  • Susan

    David, thank you so much for this recipe. I cannot believe how easy it is and how very, very good. I used a half recipe and got just about 12oz from it, drained for an hour. I plan on using it in the lasagna I’m making tonight and can’t wait to make the ricotta pound cake recipe sitting patiently on my to-try list. This is SO simple I can hardly wait to make more!

  • Cathy

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I used store brand low-fat yogurt in place of the whole-milk yogurt and it turned out wonderfully. This ricotta is so creamy and flavorful. I can’t wait to try it in Italian Cheesecake.

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