DIY: Homemade Ricotta Cheese

by Shawnda on January 24, 2007

in DIY

When I wanted to test out the real prowess of my new food processor, I made homemade peanut butter. That got me thinking – what else could I do?

I spent a recent Sunday in front of the TV (rooting for the Colts) with a lap full of old Cooking Light magazines. My husband is designing a recipe database for me so I figured I had no excuse to keep years of cooking mags in various stashes around the house. Time to find the good stuff, import it into the recipe database, and recycle the mags.

I found a recipe in Cooking Light for Do-It-Yourself Ricotta Cheese. Make your own ricotta cheese? Are you kidding me?!

I would have never thought to even try it before, but the recipe looked so simple. Three ingredients – that’s it. The experience was incredibly rewarding. A 15 oz bowl of drippy-wet, grainy ricotta cheese from my grocery store sets me back about $4. I made nearly three times that amount for approximately the same price. Did you know that ricotta actually has an odor? Store-bought ricotta only smells “cold” while homemade ricotta smells creamy and rich – especially when its warm.

But the coolest thing was looking at that mound of gorgeous cheese and thinking “I did that all myself.” And it wasn’t soupy or grainy! Those perfect white pillows of tangy ricotta found their way into at least one thing I ate every day last week and made the perfect filling for ravioli. Give it a shot! If you love ricotta like I do, there’s nothing more satisfying than biting into perfectly textured cheese produced in your very own kitchen.

Ingredients
5 cups buttermilk*
1 gallon 2% milk
1/2 tsp salt

Line a large colander or sieve with 5 layers of dampened cheesecloth, allowing the cheesecloth to extend over outside edges of colander; place colander in a large bowl.

Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy stockpot. Attach a candy thermometer to edge of pan so that thermometer extends at least 2 inches into milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until candy thermometer registers 170 (about 20 minutes), gently stirring occasionally. As soon as milk mixture reaches 170, stop stirring (whey and curds will begin separating at this point).

Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer registers 190. (Be sure not to stir, or curds that have formed will break apart.) Immediately remove pan from heat. (Bottom of pan may be slightly scorched.)

Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon curds into cheesecloth-lined colander; discard whey, or reserve it for another use. Drain over bowl for 5 minutes.

Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Hang cheesecloth bundle from kitchen faucet; drain 15 minutes or until whey stops dripping. Scrape ricotta into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt; toss gently with a fork to combine. Cool to room temperature.

* To make whole-milk ricotta cheese, use 1 gallon whole milk and reduce the buttermilk to 4 cups.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chellie January 24, 2007 at 3:43 pm

Oh wow! I never would think of making my own ricotta either, but I do believe I’ll be trying this out very soon!!

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2 Pebbles January 24, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Wow – You’re too good for words! I am Italian and haven’t even begun to think about making my own Ricotta. Go ahead now!

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3 Pebbles January 24, 2007 at 6:13 pm

Wow – You’re too good for words. I am Italian and haven’t even begun to think of making my own Ricotta. Go ahead, girl!

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4 Queen Art-o-Eat January 25, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Would you tell me more about the data base your husband is creating? My 30 years of magazines are adding insulation to my garage-
Thanks!
the queen

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5 foodiebride January 27, 2007 at 9:20 am

Good morning, Queen!

The story on the recipe database… I have about 6 years worth of Martha Stewart Living, 3 years of Cooking Light, and a stack of miscellaneous magazines that I’ve collected with good intentions over the years. Magazines hide in every cabinet and closet, and recipes sat long forgotten, as you can imagine!

My husband (a software engineer) decided to help me get organized and has started building a recipe database. I have the “alpha” copy on my computer right now. It’s pretty rough right now (just a gray Windows window) with a few boxes. The best feature that’s active right now (and maybe the best feature of even the finished product) is the import feature. I can find a recipe online, highlight and copy it, and select “Import” in the database – it pulls over the ingredients into the Ingredients list, the how-to into a Directions box, and all I have to do is type in the name of the recipe and click Save.

It also allows for manual entry for recipes that I can’t find online and have to type in myself. It has a search feature very similar to the Firefox browser’s search box (as you type a word, it eliminates those recipes that do not have that word in it). I wanted more than just a “title” search since the title often doesn’t tell me if it uses rosemary or not (the current search goes through every word in a recipe).

The finished version will have a menu generator, meaning I can pick meals and save it as a menu (and print it). The ingredients for that menu will print on a separate page and serve as a shopping list. Eventually it will contain a feature to automatically create menus based on the categories assigned. It will also come with a couple of different “looks” to pretty-it up a bit.

My husband is a huge advocate of open-source programming – free programs for anyone and everyone. So not only will the programs work in Windows, Linux and eventually on a Mac, it will be free. Once it is fit for public consumption (maybe another month or two), we’ll have the download available on both his site as well as my blog for anyone and everyone to download and use. He’ll also accept requests and suggestions from people (other than me) on how to tweak the program to make it better or add new features. I”m excited about it! And as soon as it’s ready, we’ll make it available!

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6 foodiebride January 27, 2007 at 9:20 am

Pebbles & Chellie – Thanks! It’s really a treat and it just tastes soooo good!

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7 Linda January 29, 2007 at 11:51 am

thanks so much for sharing this recipe. i can’t wait to try it.

and your more recent panini post — looks scrumptious!

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8 deb smith August 30, 2011 at 7:03 am

Looks very interesting! How long does this keep?

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9 foodiebride August 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

Deb – about a week!

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