Homemade Creamy Ricotta Cheese
Making your own cheese at home is one of life's pleasures. These basic, soft cheeses are simple to make and it's rewarding to make them yourself using fresh, natural ingredients. Homemade Creamy Ricotta Cheese is one of the simplest of all.
Simplified Ricotta Cheese Recipe
True Ricotta has more steps than this recipe. Traditional ricotta is made using whey left over from other cheesemaking. Whilst this is a wonderful way to use up whey which would normally be thrown away, most of us don't have left-over whey on a regular basis. This Ricotta Cheese recipe is based on the original but is simpler and creamier.
Why make Homemade Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta isn't an expensive cheese to buy and is pretty widely available. When you make your own, you will find the flavour more delicate than shop-bought Ricotta. Making it at home allows you to make your cheese to the consistency you prefer. Part of the process you will be familiar with if you've made halloumi cheese is to separate the whey from the curds. If you strain the curds briefly, you get a more wet cheese. If you strain it overnight, you get a more dry ricotta. So you can make this cheese to your preferred consistency, and then flavour it however you like. And, of course, you can make exactly the amount you need so there is no waste.
To add Cream or not add Cream?
You will find a variety of ricotta cheese recipes online. Some are made simply with milk, some add cream. Hence calling this Creamy Ricotta Cheese.
Milk-only ricotta cheese is lighter and more closely replicates a real Italian ricotta (which is more complex to make than typical homemade recipes). When you add cream to the ricotta, it takes it to another 'dip the spoon in one more time' level. I make both kinds but adding cream does make it super decadent! Very similar to a cream cheese in fact.
Lemon Juice, Vinegar or Citric Acid?
Adding any of these to milk makes the milk solids separate and coagulate. You can use any of them. We tend to use lemon juice, just because it adds a slightly fresh taste to the cheese. Sometimes people say they use lemon juice when they're going to use the ricotta in a sweet recipe, and white vinegar when they're going to use it in a savoury dish. You can use whichever you prefer.
Uses for Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta is of course fabulous in pasta sauces with the traditional spinach included. Because this version is so creamy, we use it like a homemade cream cheese. In a homemade bagel with homemade butter and smoked salmon it is absolutely fabulous! Just add a little lemon juice to the salmon for extra zing.
Homemade Creamy Ricotta Cheese Recipe
1 litre of homogenised, full fat milk (ie milk that doesn't have the cream floating on the top, it will say 'homogenised' somewhere on the label)
250ml double cream
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Half a teaspoon of sea salt (or to taste)
You will also need
1. Put the milk and cream in a pan with the salt.
2. Bring to the boil, being careful not to scorch.
3. R emove from the heat, add the lemon juice and stir. Curdling will start immediately.
4. Leave the pan undisturbed for a couple of minutes.
5. Line the sieve with the cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.
6. Transfer the ricotta curds to the sieve with the slotted spoon and allow the whey to drain away.
7. If you like your ricotta soft, you can transfer the curds to a container with a lid and keep in the fridge after 30 minutes. If you like it firmer, you can leave it for a few hours (even overnight draining in the fridge if you like it really dry).
8. This Ricotta will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.