Confession: I’ve made ricotta at home before and found the experience underwhelming. True, the process couldn’t be easier, but after dumping a gallon of milk into a pot, adding some lemon juice, turning up the heat, waiting for everything to separate, and straining out the solid stuff in a colander, I wound up with the tiniest bit of lumpy homemade cheese. “Eh,” I said as I ate the fruits of my labor with a spoon. “I’d rather just buy it from the store.”
Then I read Molly Wizenberg’s new book Delancey and found myself totally intrigued by her ricotta recipe. Yes, there’s almost a gallon of whole milk but, instead of lemon juice, you use buttermilk for the acid and then you also use cream. Most impressive of all: the recipe promises to yield ONE POUND of ricotta. That final bit seemed too good to be true so I knew that I had to make it this past weekend.
Here’s all you need to do it:
These are all from the grocery store; if you can get straight-from-the-farm milk, buttermilk, and cream, even better.
Watch how easy. Into a Dutch oven*? Pour 6 1/2 cups of the milk (and make sure to use whole milk or there’s no point!), 2 cups buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. (* I think the Dutch oven’s important because its width allows you to yield more ricotta.)
Weird sidebar. I don’t know why, but there were these little orange solid bits when I added all of these things together. I have NO idea what they were but I took them out with a spoon. You can kind of see them in the above picture.
No worry, let’s crank up the heat and stir every so often. Oh and you’ll want to monitor the temperature; you’re watching for 180.
Not there yet. But when you do get there, you stop stirring and watch the curds and whey gradually separate.
Meanwhile, have a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth situated over a bowl.
When it doesn’t look like any more separation is possible, turn the heat off and allow the pot to sit for 30 minutes. Then ladle that ricotta into the colander without pressing down.
Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve made ricotta. And a lot of it!
I was so happy with how much ricotta this recipe yielded. At this stage, it’s rather loose and good for using in a dessert or on top of pizza. Me? I decided to drain it overnight to firm it up a bit.
Here it is turned out into a bowl:
Can you believe how easy that was to make at home? Why would you ever buy ricotta at the store after making that? You wouldn’t.
So thanks, Molly, for a ricotta recipe I won’t be able to live without. It’s the bee’s knees.
Recipe: Ricotta Worth Making at Home
Summary: From Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey.
- 6 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a Dutch oven (or another heavy pot with a capacity of 5 quarts), combine the milk, cream, and buttermilk. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Every so often, check the temp: you’re shooting for 180 F. When you get there, stop stirring.
- At this point–as the pictures show–the curds and whey will separate. When it looks like they’ve separated as much as they can, take the pot off the heat and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth and ladle the ricotta into it. Don’t press down or Molly will come yell at you. When all of the whey has drained away, you have ricotta that’s ready for pizza: “soft and creamy, but not soupy.” Otherwise, let it keep draining as much as you want. I took it to the extreme with my super thick ricotta that I drained overnight. The choice is yours. So, for that matter, is the ricotta. Lucky you.
Preparation time: 45 minute(s)
Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4