Home-Made Ricotta Cheese

One night in the Fall of 2009, I was having trouble sleeping so I did what I always do: I surfed the web. Eventually, I came across a cheese-making site, then another, and another. At the time, I had no idea that so many varieties of cheese could be made at home. While some – gorgonzola, cheddar, parmesan, etc. — are a bit too involved for me to attempt, I have made mozzarella, cream cheese, ricotta, mascarpone, and goat cheese, not to mention butter and herbed yogurt cheese. Although I’ve no intention of blogging about my cheesy exploits, earlier today I followed a recipe from a cooking show that produced a great batch of ricotta. Because of its simplicity and delicious results, I thought I’d devote today’s entry to the making of ricotta. For those interested in making cheese at home, I’ve listed below a few websites that I’ve used as sources for both information and supplies.

Yum!

Recently, I watched a program hosted by Boston’s Brass Sisters. They planned to make their special lasagna for the firemen of a nearby firehouse and needed to buy ricotta. They went to Capone Foods, where the owner, Albert Capone, not only sold them what they needed, he shared his recipe for making ricotta. I made some earlier today and it ranks among the best ricotta that I’ve ever tasted and is certainly the easiest to make.  Looks to me like it will be stuffed shells for dinner tomorrow night.

Before attempting to make this cheese or any within my recipe collection, please refer to my Cheesy Stuff page. Chock full of cheesy details, it provides information about ingredients, cleaning/sterilizing equipment, spices & seasonings, a few tips, and sources for supplies and information.

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Albert Capone’s Homemade Ricotta Recipe

total time: 30 minutes to prepare, at least 2 hours to drain.

yield: about 2 lbs. – recipe may be halved easily

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp table salt
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

Directions

  1. Combine milk, cream, and salt in a large non-reactive pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir often to prevent scorching as you bring the temperature up to 185*.
  3. Add the vinegar, stir for 15 seconds, and heat for two more minutes before removing from heat.
  4. 15 – 20 minutes later, use a small sieve or slotted spoon to remove the floating curds and place them in a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain.  Place colander over a bowl in refrigerator and drain for at least a couple of hours or overnight.  The longer you allow it to drain, the more firm the results.
  5. Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth, place in airtight containers, and refrigerate. Ricotta will last up to 2 weeks.

Note: Always be careful if you add fresh herbs to your newly made cheese. Although fine if served relatively soon, the fresh herbs may be a source of contamination and cause your cheese to spoil prematurely. Of course, if the freshly herbed cheese is then cooked, the “threat” is reduced.

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Cheesy Stuff

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46 thoughts on “Home-Made Ricotta Cheese

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  3. Ooh, I’m embarrassed to admit I’m Italian and have never made this! Don’t throw me out of the club yet tho, cuz I’m going to follow this recipe and finally enjoy homemade ricotta!!

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    • We had a family recipe that was more involved and, as a result, rarely used. This one is very easy to make and won’t “break” if cooked in a recipe. If I ask Zia to try something and she begins to use it exclusively, I know I’m onto something. She uses this recipe for all of her ricotta needs now. Neither one of us has bought ricotta for some time.

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    • See? Finding this recipe was a revelation. I’ve tried making ricotta the traditional way, by reheating whey and the results are so inconsistent. This recipe is incredibly easy and can be halved, like Zia does, depending upon how much is needed. As far as I know, raw ricotta doesn’t freeze well. As I write this, I realize that we freeze ricotta stuffed shells that aren’t cooked, although the ricotta is combined with other ingredients. I’ve never considered freezing it because it is easy enough to make a batch whenever I need some. I hope you find it as easy and worthwhile as we do.

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      • Mouthwatering – and it looks very anpstieipg spread on the slice of bread. I am not sure I could be motivated to make my own but I applaud you for giving it a go!

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  5. Hi John
    I just saw Sawsan’s comment about you teaching her to make cheese on her post…this is on my bucket list of things I need to do. Where would I find distilled vinegar? Could I use regular vinegar?

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    • Oh, Eva, you’re in for a real treat. I use plain, white vinegar — not apple cider, red wine, or any such thing. The containers here call it “distilled” but the main thing is to get one that is as flavorless as possible so that the cheese isn’t affected. Zia will be 89 years young next month. Her husband absolutely loved ricotta. She hasn’t used store-bought ricotta since I showed her this recipe 2 years ago and I haven’t since I first saw this prepared. It really is that good and incredibly easy to prepare.

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  8. I meant to tell you when I first looked this post up, John, that I had a Eureka moment over it: the Seattle chef who let me assist in cannoli-filling (I was going to write “let me hold his cannoli while he was stuffing it” but decided that was just a little too suggestive, not that Italian food isn’t sexy enough already) said that he *only* used some kind of ricotta he had shipped out from Boston because nobody else anywhere had any nearly so good and creamy. I’m certain Signore Capone’s must be the very stuff, so now I *know* I have to make this recipe. Now if only I can find enough time when we’re actually at home (busy days chez Sparks) . . . but believe me, it’s on my list!! Thanks again!

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    • What a coincidence if your chef-friend’s source was the same as my recipe’s, eh? When Zia and I make a batch, we’ll use it for whatever it was intended and then mix the left-over cheese with an egg, some spinach, & some spices, and then stuff as many shells as possible. They get placed on a cookie sheet, frozen, and then stored in bags in the freezer. When times are busy, like they are now at chez-vous, all you need is a little sauce, some marinara for the baking dish, a hot oven and dinner is served a short while later. Or course, if things are really busy, you’ll probably need more sauce. :)

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  15. I’ve used (and blogged about) almost the exact same recipe a while ago, and loved it! I will definitely make it again as it is both better tasting and cheaper than anything available store-bought on this side of the Alps.

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    • There really is no comparison between this ricotta and what is available commercially over here. I haven’t bought ricotta since coming upon this recipe and doubt I ever will.

      Like

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    • This is an easy one and you’ll be surprised how good the result tastes. I no longer buy ricotta from the store. You’ll see. :)
      Thanks for the vote of confidence. Good luck!

      Like

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  19. You make it seem so effortless. So, so tempting. At this rate I’m going to have to lose weight on vacation (ha!) in order to make all these delicious recipes.

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    • Cam, I promise. You will be amazed. It is ridiculously simple and the result is the creamiest ricotta you’ve ever tasted. Neither Zia nor myself have bought ricotta since I came upon this recipe.

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  24. I can see I’m going to be making my own ricotta the minute I have a kitchen of my own – I have to say, ricotta is something I REALLY miss! To think I could have been having fresh, really fresh, ricotta all these years … well it doesn’t bear thinking about. Now – back to the zucchini flowers … :)

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