Monday, January 09, 2006

Homemade Ricotta

A simple but successful recipe

photograph picture of how to make homemade recipe for ricotta with caramelized bacon and a dribble of maple

My recent Christmas Day dinner was a pot luck with 20 guests. One of the dishes I took was a ricotta cheese. My French friend, Del, came across it at the party without knowing it had anything to do with me. Wide-eyed and almost incredulous, she immediately set out to find out where someone had managed to find a ricotta "that tasted as fresh as the ones she had eaten in Italy". Eventually she asked the question of me, and I admitted to her I had made it earlier that morning.

Now, as you can imagine, everyone is very impressed with this kind of news. Ooohs and ahhs and accolades are all quickly forthcoming in your direction when you have made a cheese. They think you have performed a great feat, when really, it is one of the most simple things you could make in your kitchen. The day after Christmas, Del just mentioned my ricotta, in passing, in the comments section of her blog, and next thing I knew her readers were emailing me for the recipe.

So, I promised I would share it, and here it is:

How to Make Ricotta Cheese

1 gallon of whole milk
1 quart of buttermilk
a rubberband

- Fold rinsed cheesecloth into layers and use it to line a colander or sieve in the sink.
- Pour the milks into a large Stainless Steel, Glass, or Ceramic saucepan. Don't use aluminium or copper which will react to the acids in the milk.
- At this point I like to attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, it will come in handy later in the proceedings.
- Put the pan over high heat and stir with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure the milk doesn't burn.
- Once is the milk is warm, stop stirring and continue to heat.
- You will start to see lumps forming in the milk - these are the curds. Once the temperature reaches between 175 and 180 F, the curds and whey will separate. At that point remove your pan from the heat.
- Using an Asian Skimmer or other large flat ladle with holes, very gently transfer the curds to the lined sieve and leave them to drain.
- Once the draining has slowed to a drip, carefully gather the edges of the cloth around the cheese and secure with a rubberband, into a bag shape which can be hung from your faucet or tap.
- Drain further until the cheese cools down and dripping completely comes to a halt.
- Remove from the cheese from the cloth and refrigerate. For absolute freshness, consume as quickly as possible.

I was taught this recipe by Jessica Laskey last year at Tante Marie's Cooking School.

I served the cheese topped with a dribble of maple syrup and some small-diced caramelized bacon. To make caramelized bacon gently and slowly cook the bacon with sugar until crispy. Allow a teaspoon of sugar per rasher.

PS. I guess I hadn't told you all yet, that I loved Tante Marie's cooking school so much that I joined up for another class. And I wasn't the only one, I was delighted to catch up again with two other of my old class mates for the current course which is Slow Mediterranean Cooking with Jenn Knapp. In our first lesson, last week, I clubbed together with Joyce to prepare a quite complicated dish of "Mediterranean Mussels with Panzanella and Arugula" from the new Boulevard Cookbook by Nancy Oakes and Pamela Mazzola with Lisa Weiss. The results were great, it was well worth the effort and the book is definitely going on my shopping list! Here are some pictures from the class:

photograph picture of Marinated Squid and Fennel Salad, Cannellini Bean Salad and Fennel Crackersphotograph picture of Mediterranean Mussels with Panzanella and Arugulaphotograph picture of Pasta with Lamb, Spinach, Cilantro and Yoghurt Sauce

From left to right: Marinated Squid and Fennel Salad, Cannellini Bean Salad and Fennel Crackers, Mediterranean Mussels with Panzanella and Arugula and Pasta with Lamb, Spinach, Cilantro and Yoghurt Sauce. Pictures taken with camera phone. Click to enlarge.

Bay Area Resources referenced in this post:
Local Bacon | from The Fatted Calf
Local Recipe Book | from Boulevard
Local Cooking School | Tante Marie
Local Cute French Illustration Blog | Non Dairy Diary

Archive Alert! On this date in 2005: The British Grocery in Potrero Hill.

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Homemade Ricotta


  • At 9/1/06 07:18, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tank you very much, my problem is in the definition of wholemilk, milk industry do not know anymore what is wholemilk i think. It is difficult to have the right amount of fat in...

  • At 9/1/06 07:26, Blogger Sam said…

    moukmouk - whole milk is just regular milk - one that doesn't have any fat taken away. I can still get this in California and I hope you can too. If you can still get wholemilk in the "land of fit healthy people", I bet you can get it in your neck of the woods.
    If you don't mind paying the price you can buy a nice organic milk, but for this recipe, I was at the mercy of someone who picked up the milk on my behalf and I believe they shopped at safeway. It was still good enough to please Del, and more affordable, because it uses a LOT of milk!

  • At 9/1/06 07:55, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ah, you are a cheese maker! Yeah! My dream is to make goat cheese. Well never mind I don't have goats but I used to want to be like Heidi in the Alps ;-) and make cheese and just live in a cabin! ahahah but I grew out of it ;-)

    Whole milk has so much flavour! I use it i my yogurt making!

  • At 9/1/06 08:21, Blogger Banlieue Blog said…

    mmmm, I will try this!
    Thanks Sam,
    Bonne Annee to you and Fred!

  • At 9/1/06 08:34, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I wonder if you could use the resultant whey to make Persian kashk... I need to do more research into this, because fresh kashk would be... well... ethereal.

  • At 9/1/06 09:47, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Very nice. I've been wanting to make this. I wonder why I've resisted -- maybe because it makes so much ricotta? (Well, I should throw a party, then.)
    You're probably going to hear from purists telling you "real" ricotta is not made from milk, but rather from the whey drained from the making of mozzarella, provolone, etc. So what, say I! Sounds delicious.
    (Let me know when you attempt mozzarella!)

  • At 9/1/06 09:52, Blogger Mona said…

    Wow. I think my dad would have a heart attack (in a good way) if I made homemade ricotta!! Wow! I'm half Italian thanks to him and we use it for everything, from garnish to crackerdip to dessert. Yummy!

  • At 9/1/06 10:59, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I made homemade mozzarella some time ago and it was a blast ... it also gave instructions on how to make ricotta, but didn't attempt it. I remember the article mentioning Buffalo milk was the best to use for this, but then where does one buy Buffalo milk? Anyone ever experimented with it?

  • At 9/1/06 11:56, Blogger Delphine said…

    What Sam doesn't say is that, to my delight, she gave me what was left of the ricotta to enjoy at home.

    I loved every bite of it. It's wonderful with red currant jam, or by itself with black coffee in the morning. I like simple things, and it was a pure treat.

    Thanks Sam, I'll try a hand at it *^_^*

    I can't believe it. I said I would COOK?
    By Jove!

  • At 9/1/06 14:36, Blogger Rose said…

    that just looks splendid. something I'm definitely going to have to try sooner rather than later :-)

  • At 9/1/06 15:17, Blogger Monkey Gland said…

    Blessed are the cheesemakers...

  • At 9/1/06 18:53, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmmm...fresh ricotta. I love it but I'm rarely downtown in NYC's Little Italy where I know I can find it. Now I can make my own! I know that we're all going "sugar low" these days (I think I have my recipe), but I have to say I'm still hoping that you'll post the buche de noel recipe -- well, before next Xmas anyway...

  • At 9/1/06 19:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your talents continue to amaze us!

    Thanks for sharing that recipe ... one of our family favourites is pasta with ricotta. You can bet I'll be trying your recipe!!!

  • At 9/1/06 20:51, Blogger Joy said…

    So glad you are finding uses for my utensibility looks like it was a worthwhile task! Mmmmm...

  • At 9/1/06 23:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Glad to see you're enjoying Tante Marie... reconfirms for me that the Bay Area is such a small world. I am a friend of Jennifer Knapp, and have worked catering gigs with her. She's great. ;-)

  • At 10/1/06 06:48, Blogger Chubby Hubby said…

    Great post and great picture. Reminds me of the kind of things that Nigel Slater features. I'll have to try this. Cheers.

  • At 10/1/06 07:53, Blogger Sam said…

    Moukmouk - glad to be of service. It looks like the ricotta is a very popular subject!

    Bea - Are you going to plait your hair and start todelling?

    Melissa - If you try it I am sure you wont be disappointed. Happy New Year to you too.

    Fatemeh - yes do the research - and then we can share the milk!

    Cookie - I don't see any reason not to half the quantities. I understand it may not be authentic - but the results seem ok to me. When I do the mozzarella, of course I will let you all know. I can do panneer as well if you want!

    Mona - Let us know how you get on if you make some for your dad - and more importantly, let us know what he thinks!

    Mark - Ok - I am going to search out some buffalo milk. I think LA might be the place for it.

    Del - Merci Del, for your kind words and for being the inspiration behind this popular post. Good luck if you try to make it.

    Rose - it only takes a few minutes to throw a cheese together!

    Monkey Gland - Blessed indeed, along with the Saints of Slow Pig

    Julie - promise will recreate the buche recipe. Problem is I need to make it again to be sure as i didnt exactly write down the ingredients properly. I'll do it after Sugar High - ok! I need to get some more AMaretto too.

    Ivonne - let us know how you get on.

    Joy - just you wait to see what I did with my Asian Skimmer next. Oh yes!

    Wendy - that is a small world! I didnt know you did catering! Well, I would mention you to Jenn, but I am not sure if I am ready to out my blog in cooking class. Maybe I will just mention you by name. Btw Voda has reopened with a new look and a strippers pole. Check it out!

    Chubby - I finally got round to 'discovering' Nigel a few days ago and I am schmitten. Fred had better watch out. As soon as I try one of his recipes I am sure I will be writing about him! Thanks for stopping by, all.


  • At 10/1/06 07:55, Blogger Sam said…

    PS - chubby - that was not really a great picture. It was a quick snap taken in situ at the party. I am happy not to use posed arty professional style food photos sometimes. Keeping it real. And it looks ok.
    (PS that translates as really I am jealous as hell cos I just cant take opictures as good as you!)

  • At 10/1/06 18:41, Blogger eat stuff said…

    Wow Sam that looks fantastic!!!

  • At 12/1/06 20:00, Blogger kitchenmage said…

    What timing, I've been thinking I need to look for a recpe for ricotta for weeks now. Two questions: how long does it take start-to-finish to make? (should i make it the day before i need it?) Got a clue about freezing it? I'd love to make a bunch and stash some, and even frozen homemade has to be better than what I can find locally...assuming freezing doesn't destroy it.

  • At 13/1/06 09:14, Blogger Sam said…

    Kitchenmage - it takes less than half an hour I'd guess, probably more like 20 minutes. Then you need to drain it on the tap a while, and then on top of that cooling time. It really is easier than you can imagine!
    I didn't try it the day after, but my french friend who took it home seeemed happy.
    You could probably even whip it up before work if you wanted to use it one evening.

    I really don't know about the freezing aspect. though. As it is so easy I would just make it and use it.

    Next time i might try with half quantaties because this recipe does make more than I can use for two.

  • At 18/1/06 16:28, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here's another to try:

    1. Add 7 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to a quart of milk.
    2. Heat the milk slowly to 200 F, stirring just enough to keep the milk from sticking to the bottom.
    3. Remove the milk from the heat and let it cool for a half-hour to an hour.
    4. Scoop out the curds into cheese cloth, wrap tight and let it drip until you like the consistency.

    You can get anywhere from 8-16 ounces of ricotta.

    You can use any kind of milk for this. I've tried it with goat's milk, 1%, whole; its very handy for ravioli filling.

  • At 21/1/06 19:39, Blogger Stephanie said…

    Ooh, I always wanted to make my own homemade cheese but have always been too intimidated. If anyone has an mozzarella cheese receip will not require me to move a rustic farm somewhere, please let me know! Thanks so much for posting this!

  • At 31/3/06 16:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Classic ricotta (which means "cooked again") is actually made from the whey left over from other cheeses, and has little fat in it. I make goat cheese and cow cheese often at home from raw milk, and as a result I end up making ricotta 1-2 times per week. A ricotta-like cheese can be made from whole milk, which is what this recipe is, sometimes called "whole milk ricotta". Very good, but for classic ricotta, you'll need whey from other cheesemaking. Incidentally, you might want to try making a ricotta-like cheese with real (not cultured) buttermilk. Very interesting taste.

  • At 3/4/06 00:28, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It was a long time coming, but one should never doubt cookiecrumb's predictions.

  • At 18/3/07 04:01, Blogger Lien said…

    Hello, Karen from "Bake my day" tipped me about this ricotta recipe. I tried to make ricotta before...and it was awful! Your recipe was different so I gave it a go. The taste was really good and I used the ricotta in several recipes. It doesn't taste totally like the one you eat in Italy (hey, but that just can't be beaten!), but it came close. It's already said that it's 'whole milk ricotta', that's probably the difference in taste. But for baking and so on this whole milk ricotta tastes even better.
    I translated the recipe in dutch on my blog ( and linked it to your blog. Thanks for a great recipe!!!

  • At 6/6/07 22:09, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for the "ricotta recipe". We used to make a lot of ricotta when we still lived on our farm, i miss it! That sounds so delicious!
    You should post your recipe at!
    I would like to add it on my site!
    I can't wait to try it!

  • At 2/3/09 22:06, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow.. this looks delicious. This item is totally new for me. Let me try. Thank you very much Sam for recipe.

  • At 8/7/09 09:37, Blogger Drift said…

    Hi, very late to the game but if someone sees this I have a quesiotn. My wife has issues with cow's milk; can sheeps milk be substituted in part or in whole for cow's milk in this recipe?

  • At 22/7/09 13:26, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I found this receipt and made a batch. My wife suggested we add some lemon zest to the finished product and served it at a party. It was gone in a flash and no one could believe we made it ourself.

  • At 2/12/09 11:43, Anonymous REW said…

    You're photos are beautiful. I've read that you should always use the freshest milk possible but, because I don't have access to a dairy I use supermarket milk like most everyone else. I'm wondering if there's anyone out there that has used super fresh milk to make ricotta and if there's any discernible difference in taste.


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