A few months ago I was lucky enough to walk away from a cheese making workshop with a cheese kit. So of course I also walked away confident that within weeks I would be proudly boasting my first batches of feta, halloumi, ricotta, mozzarella and more. However things didn’t turn out that way. After a successful trial run making home-made mozzarella the cheese kit gathered dust. Only recently, after being inspired by Tracy at scratchitcook (a fellow food blogger), did I commit to giving cheese making another go. Within days ‘make ricotta’ moved from my to-do list into the kitchen.
A couple of attempts later I am hoping to inspire you with this simple ricotta recipe that came largely from my Mad Millie cheese kit. Ricotta is so versatile – you can use it in lasagna or other pasta dishes, as part of a salad, or in a desert such as cheesecake. With a little experimentation I’ve learnt that ricotta is so easy to make that there really is no need to buy it.
The ingredients here make around 400g of ricotta (14 oz) – it’s easy to adjust the quantities depending on how much you’d like to make.
- 2 litres (½ gallon) full cream milk, ideally unhomogenised (see tips)
- 1 tsp citric acid that’s been dissolved in ¼ cup of cool water
- 1 tsp salt
- Calcium chloride (optional)*
* Optional ingredient if you are using homogenised milk (add 0.5ml calcium chloride per litre) – it works to restore some of the calcium that can be lost during homogenisation and in doing so helps the curds to form.
- Large pan
- Measuring spoon and jug
- Draining spoon (large serving spoon with holes for spooning out curds)
- Ricotta basket (or substitute with a large sieve over a deep bowl)
- Cheese cloth (optional – helps to separate the curds from the whey)
- Pour the milk into the pot. If you are using homogenised milk add 0.5ml of calcium chloride per litre of milk.
- Add the salt to the milk and give it a gentle stir. Place your thermometer into the milk.
- Gradually heat the milk on a low to medium heat to 95C (205F) whilst stirring constantly. As soon as you reach that temperature take the pan off the heat.
- Stir in the water containing the citric acid. Then do not stir the mixture again.
- Curds should start to form pretty quickly. Within as little as 20 minutes the curds will be ready to be removed into the ricotta basket. If after 20 minutes or so the curds are still forming allow it a little longer – even up to 60 minutes may be needed.
- Transfer the curds gently from the pan into the ricotta basket (or sieve) with a draining spoon.
- Once the curds are in the basket and draining then note that the longer you allow them to drain (this can be over an hour) the drier your end ricotta will be. If you’d prefer soft and creamy ricotta then reduce the draining time to as little as 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a container and store in the fridge (ideally consume within 3-5 days).
- If the curds don’t start to form after a few minutes at step 5 then add a little drop more of citric acid.
- Use the best quality milk you can afford (ideally organic). Goats milk can also be used to make ricotta.
- Lemon juice, lime juice or distilled vinegar can be used in place of the citric acid solution at step 4 (3 tbsp per litre of milk appears to be a good guide).
- Mad Millie ship their cheese kits to Australia and New Zealand – order online at madmillie.com
- Be aware of cheese making hygiene – sterilise anything that comes into intact with the milk just before starting (you can use an iodophor steriliser to do this).
If you have any other tips I’d love to hear them…..
Finally – don’t get disheartened if your first attempt isn’t successful. My first attempt was a disaster – the curds just wouldn’t form. Only on my second attempt did I realise that a serious blonde moment on the first attempt caused me to get my Fahrenheit and Celsius completely mixed up (which in reality meant I removed the ricotta from the heat way too early).
By Feast Wisely
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