How to Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Homemade Ricotta – the recipe you have all been requesting! Freshly made soft, luscious ricotta to spread on fresh bread, mix with fruit or add to your next Italian dish. In this video, you will be introduced to an incredibly passionate Italian cheesemaker who will change your life and introduce you to making cheese at home. Italian dishes are known for their fresh, quality ingredients – especially the cheeses and now you can make your own by hand. While this recipe shares the method of preparing ricotta cheese (and it does call for some effort), as a bonus, you’ll get some delightful mozzarella and whey out of the process too!
Vincenzo’s Top Tips To Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Use Unpasteurized Milk
Don’t make the mistake of grabbing any bottle of milk off the shelf when shopping for your ingredients. Many milk products at the market have been pasteurized, and they won’t work if you’re trying to make authentic Italian cheese. You can work with raw sheep or raw cow milk. When reading labels, remember that raw means unpasteurized (which is what you need!).
Choose a Whey Starter over Vinegar
If you have made cheese in the past or have access to a whey starter, be sure to use it for your ricotta. To allow the cheese to age and set correctly, you’ll need to introduce a fermenting compound with enzymes to the milk. Whey is the perfect thing for this task. If no whey is available, you can use white vinegar.
Be Careful with the Rennet
Rennet is essential in cheesemaking; a misstep can mean the difference between success and disaster. You must take care and be gentle with the rennet, as over-agitating the rennet as it will break up the curds when they’re starting to form. Additionally, avoid using tap water as it contains chlorine, and it can inhibit the formation of curds. Instead, use distilled or demineralized water for dissolving the rennet.
Save Some Whey for Later
Whey is the liquid left over after the milk mixture has curdled and been strained. It’s full of enzymes and antimicrobial properties that make it an important starter for creating future batches of cheese. If you store it in a covered container, you can safely store it in the refrigerator for several months and use it in cheese production.
How to Serve Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta is incredibly versatile; how you use and enjoy it is really up to you! You can eat it fresh or add herbs and spices. You can also browse through my authentic Italian recipes and incorporate the fresh ricotta as an ingredient in many of my dishes. Be aware that you should use fresh ricotta within five days for the ultimate taste and freshness.
Homemade Italian Ricotta Recipe
- 1 Thermometer very essential to quality!
- 2 Large pots or boilers
- 1 Wood spoon
- 1 Whisk
- 1 Strainer Spoon
- 1 Sieve Strainer
- 1 Cheesecloth (optional but helpful) Optional but helpful
- 1 Tray
- Small containers with holes/slits for drainage For the cheese
- Raw unpasteurized cow or sheep’s milk we used 20L for this large batch
- Whey starter or white vinegar, if necessary
- Organic rennet we use calf rennet
- Demineralized water
- To make homemade ricotta cheese, first use a strainer to filter the unpasteurized milk of any impurities.
- Next, add the whey starter or vinegar to the milk before mixing and heating the milk to 40°C (104°F) in a large boiler pot over the stove.
- Once it reaches the correct temperature, remove from heat and add the calf rennet. We used a powdered rennet and dissolved it in demineralized water.
- Pour the rennet in a smooth circular motion over the pot. Stir it gently in a circular pattern. Stop the milk movement by gently moving it in the opposite direction.
- Wait for the magic to happen! The milk will coagulate and make a beautiful curd.
- Touch the mixture to see if it is ready - Your finger should come up clean!
- Make a first cut to separate the whey from the curd, then continue to make cuts in smooth strokes across the pot. Leave it to rest. (The curds can be used to make mozzarella!)
- Strain and filter the mixture into another large boiler pot with a strainer and cheesecloth.
- Transfer the pot with the filtered liquid to the stove and heat the whey and remaining milk. It should reach 77-80°C (176°F) to become ricotta.
- Turn the milk gently but stop mixing as it gets hotter, or the ricotta won’t form and come to the surface.
- Boil the mixture so it tightens and gets harder.
- Once the ricotta has come to the top and become firmer, turn off the heat.
- Use a strainer spoon to begin scooping it into slotted container then allow the ricotta to continue to drain from the containers into a tray.
- Eat fresh, add it to your favourite recipe, or save it for later. You can enjoy the homemade ricotta cheese hot or cold!
E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate….Enjoy!
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