Ricotta cheese is amazing. Although you'll see many recipes that suggest substituting cottage cheese, don't do it if you have a choice. Ricotta is the real deal and you're missing a wonderful treat if you settle for anything less. Even better, make it yourself.
The first time I made ricotta cheese, I used a buttermilk-based recipe. It was fantastic, but this time I thought I'd try a different version. My plan was to use it in panna cotta, "cooked cream" in Italian, topped with a fruit-based sauce. Although panna cotta is traditionally made with cream or a milk/cream combination, my recipe (from Abby Dodge's Baketogether group) called for ricotta cheese. Bingo - an excuse to make homemade ricotta cheese again! The ricotta cheese was a huge hit on its own, and just as delightful in the panna cotta.
- Homemade ricotta is infinitely better than store-bought;
- Whole milk is typically the base, but you can add heavy cream and/or yogurt or substitute lower fat milk for at least part of the whole milk;
- All the recipes (I've found) use a lot of liquid dairy to produce a relatively small amount of ricotta. Eight cups or more of milk and other dairy (plus other ingredients) - no matter what the proportions - yield about 2 cups of ricotta;
- Whether you heat the liquid to just below a simmer or to boiling, be careful not to let the milk burn the bottom of the pan or you'll ruin the cheese and spend days cleaning the pot.
This time I wanted to use up ingredients I had on-hand, so I did a mash-up of various recipes.
Ricotta Cheese Servings - 2 cups Cost - $5
Ingredients (see note below)
- 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
- 1 quart (4 cups) nonfat milk
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
Notes: If I had 2% or a second quart of whole milk, I would have used that and skipped the heavy cream. Next time I will leave out the yogurt and up the white vinegar. I used only half the salt that most recipes do and didn't find the result too bland, especially when the ricotta is combined with other flavors.
- Large pot with cover
- Large spoon
- Deep bowl
- Strainer with several layers of cheesecloth or a clean, white handkerchief
- Measuring spoons
- Optional - spatula, ladle, measuring cups for solids and liquids if can't estimate based on container size
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