Ricotta Fresca

ricotta-frescaHaving purchased many inferior brands of store bought “fresh” ricotta in the past I decided to present this ricotta recipe for making a truly fresh, and far more tasty version at home. The quality of homemade ricotta fresca is infinitely better than anything you can buy in a store, and fairly simple to produce with a little practice. Traditionally ricotta is made using leftover whey from producing another type of cheese such as mozzarella, or parmigiano. Although nontraditional, this ricotta recipe is fairly easy, and produces excellent results.



Parmigiano-Reggiano being made early in the morning in Emilia-Romagna.








Commercial Ricotta production from whey leftover during Parmigiano making in Italy.





To start you need to obtain the highest quality whole milk available to you. If you’re lucky enough to live in a state where raw milk is legal by all means use that! If not, it will be necessary to find milk that is not ultra-pasteurized, and preferably non-homogenized. I use Organic Valley Grassmilk (non-homogenized) and the same brand for the heavy cream.

Slowly heat the milk, cream, and salt in a non-reactive pot, while gently stirring, making sure the mixture heats up as evenly as possible. It is very important not to overcook the milk because the curds will become hard, dry, and rubbery. When the milk mixture reaches 190° remove the pot from heat immediately. Carefully stir in the lemon juice and vinegar using an up and down motion with a wire whisk about 5 times.  The ricotta curds should begin to form almost immediately.

cooking-ricotta-e1368169587387spooning-the-curdsAllow the ricotta to rest undisturbed in the pot for about 10 minutes. Gently spoon the floating curds into a cheesecloth lined ricotta basket. This will ensure that you catch even the finest pieces of ricotta. Do not collect any curds that are stuck on the bottom of the pot.  Let the ricotta drain for at least 90 minutes, it can be drained for more time if desired to create a drier finished cheese. This recipe will create a creamy style of ricotta with very fine curds. It’s especially suitable for spreading on bread or making the perfect cannoli! For a less creamy style of ricotta use less heavy cream. Lemon, white vinegar, or citric acid can all be used to acidify the milk. I personally like homemade ricotta fresca produced from a mixture of lemon and vinegar the best. I find that the taste is more balanced and not overwhelmed by either acidifier.

Ricotta Recipe:

64 oz (1893 ml) of Whole Milk (not ultra pasteurized)

16 oz (473 ml) of Heavy Cream

1 Tablespoons of Sea Salt

2 Tablespoons of White Vinegar

3 Tablespoons of Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

For a more traditional tasting and less creamy version the recipe that follows is another of my favorites.

Follow the same directions for preparation as above with a few simple changes. After the milk, cream, and salt have been heated to 190° cool the mixture to 115° before adding the rennet. Once the rennet has been added stir for a few seconds then let the mixture rest for 30 minutes. The curds can then be scooped into cheesecloth or a ricotta basket and drained. Making ricotta with rennet yields a much higher production with a cleaner overall flavor. 

Fresh Ricotta Recipe #2

64 oz (1893 ml) of Whole Milk (not ultra pasteurized)

10 oz (310 ml) of Heavy Cream

1 Tablespoons of Sea Salt

1 1/2 Tablespoons of regular strength veal Rennet mixed with 50ml of distilled, or chlorine free water


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