Ricotta originated in Italy and traditionally is made from the whey left over from the cheese making process. Literally meaning ‘recooked’ the whey is reheated to a high temperature with added acid (like lemon juice or vinegar). This causes the remaining proteins to clump together and form the lovely soft curds that is ricotta. Widely used in Italian cooking, ricotta features in delicious sweet treats and pastas alike.
In reality though most of us don’t have the time to make our own cheese at home on a regular basis, so getting your hands on fresh whey can be tricky. Luckily there is an alternative way to make ricotta using whole milk and lemon juice. Although it doesn’t follow the traditional method, it’s a quick and easy way to enjoy fresh ricotta straight from your own kitchen. Try it spread on sourdough toast with some honey and figs for breakfast or create a quick pasta with basil, cherry tomatoes and fresh ricotta. I promise you will be hooked!
Homemade whole milk ricotta
Preparation Time: 45 minutes | Makes: 500gm
4 litres of organic whole milk
(good quality organic milk will always make your cheese taste better!)
125ml pure cream
(you can leave this out but it will make your ricotta oh so creamy)
250ml lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
5 litre stock pot
Cheese cloth or Chux cloth
STEP 1: Heat the milk to 85°C (185°F)
Add the milk to the pot and over a medium setting and slowly warm your milk to 85°C (185°F). This should take about 15 minutes. Whisk the milk from time to time to ensure it doesn’t burn.
STEP 2: Add the lemon juice
Once your milk is at temperature give it a good stir with a whisk. Then removing the whisk add the lemon juice allowing the moving milk to mix with the acid.
Once the lemon juice is added stir the milk very gently to make sure it is mixed through well. You want to clearly see the translucent whey and soft curds separated. Let it stand for 1-2 minutes.
STEP 4: Separate the curds and the whey
Line your strainer with cheese or chux cloth set above a container and gently spoon out your curds. Once you have scooped out the biggest curds pour the rest of the contents into the strainer to drain.
STEP 5: Drain the curds
Leave the curds to stand for about 15 minutes until most of the whey has been drained. Gently mix through cream (if you are using it) and the salt.
STEP 6: Ready to eat!
Fresh ricotta is best eaten within a day of making it but you can also store it in an airtight container in the frigde for up to a week. Eat it fresh or use in your favourite Italian dishes.
Recipes using ricotta: