Homemade Ricotta: The Food of Summer

ricotta at home

In late May I made a list of summery things that I was excited to cook — even new kitchen skills I couldn’t wait to tackle and share with you. I remember thinking, ‘this is the year I will become a grill master!’ It was probably right around that time that I talked with our friend Brandon about how I should pitch an article to a major magazine on wedding planning and how it’s really just like running a business: What’s all the fuss about, people? Just make yourself a checklist. Well, this summer has humbled me on both counts. There hasn’t been much innovative cooking coming out of our kitchen (although we’ve become true champs at the BLT sandwich. Sometimes, if we’re feeling really crazy we’ll add avocado). And wedding planning? Someone save me. Let’s get this show on the road already. When I made my bold assertion to Brandon, we’d taken care of all the big things (caterer, music, venue, cake) so it all seemed very, very under control. But as many of you know, it’s all the little details that move into your head and take up valuable real estate — for a chunk of the summer of 2014, as it turns out.

So today as I sit here with an acute acknowledgment that I’m far from a grill master (in fact, we still don’t own a grill), I’m feeling awfully proud to be sharing this recipe for homemade ricotta with you. It was on my ‘make this summer’ list and it really is even better than I could’ve imagined; I’m not really sure why we’ve been buying store-bought tubs all these years, especially considering we’re talking about four ingredients and a mere half an hour to make your own batch. And I’m here to report, too, that homemade ricotta is good on most things: toasts, sandwiches, omelettes, as a dessert with fresh peaches or cherries, in the morning over oatmeal, by the spoonful with a little flaky salt for a quick snack. 

This recipe originally comes from my friend Rachael Coyle. She has a wonderful pop up bakeshop each Saturday here in Seattle called Coyle’s Bakeshop, where she bakes all manner of delicious things, from flaky savory croissants to dense chocolate cakes. She sent this recipe many weeks ago as part of her newsletter and I set it aside, knowing there’d come a time when I had an extra afternoon and could whip up my own batch.

bowl of homemade ricotta

The method is quite simple: you’re essentially heating milk and cream and encouraging them to curdle with the addition of acid (here, we’re using buttermilk, but you’ll see some recipes that call for lemon juice or vinegar instead). Then you simply strain the warm mixture, the curds stay behind and become the ricotta, and the whey strains away. Cheesecloth is certainly the easiest way to strain the two parts, but if you have a clean fine-weive dish cloth and a mesh strainer, you’ll be just fine.

dinner party appetizers

I included a few few photos here of the past few weeks at our house — we had a good run of houseguests and visitors which was a nice break in routine. I got to catch up with my Bay Area friends Stacy and Kimberly, eat good cheese and olives, have big slices of nectarine raspberry pie with Andrea, and hang our new outdoor string lights (thank you, Sam).

Summer Dinner Party

There have been quite a few things that have happened this summer that weren’t on my list — I suppose this is how those things usually go. I’ve fallen in love with our picnic table all over again, planted a bunch of pretty mums; I’ve been working a really busy farmers market season for Marge Granola, started to turn over ideas for a new book, and planned our 3-week honeymoon. While the season hasn’t looked exactly like I thought it would, it sure hasn’t been half bad.

home

And amidst all those things, I’ve been eating many, many ricotta toasts. And I hope, now, that you will too.

homemade ricotta toasts

Homemade Ricotta Cheese
As Rachael noted in her newsletter, this recipe takes just a few minutes of heating and stirring and then about half an hour of draining. Some recipes don’t add salt at all, and ask that you do so to taste, but I find that the amount here is almost perfect — I end up sprinkling a little additional salt on top, but the ricotta itself is seasoned well to my taste. If you’d prefer a bit more salt in your batch, feel free (but I’d taste it with these proportions first). 

Slightly adapted from: Rachael Coyle

Makes: About 3/4 cup – 1 cup

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine all four ingredients and set over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When the mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat and stir gently; small curds will begin to form. Let the mixture sit for several minutes then gently ladle the curds and whey into a (cheesecloth-lined) mesh strainer set over a bowl. Let drain for 30 minutes. Ricotta is now ready to use, or keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Comments

  1. Emmarie

    Sounds yummy! Can it be made with lower fat milk to make it a little healthier?

    1. megang

      Great question, Emmarie. I haven't tried it but my suspicion is that it could. The milk would still curdle and separate just fine -- it just probably wouldn't taste as rich, obviously. Let me know how it goes! ~Megan

    1. megang

      I think so, too, Casey. I'm convinced both of our businesses are going to die -- I've never been gone this long. But doing A LOT in advance to prepare, so hopefully all will be o.k.

  2. Eileen

    Yay, homemade ricotta! This sounds so easy and approachable -- definitely different from the common impression of cheesemaking.

  3. Robin

    Emmarie -- I make this with whole milk but no cream (so 2 1/2 cups of whole milk, or 2 cups of milk and a little less buttermik and salt) and it tastes just fine and curdles just fine. I have made the recipe as stated, and I think my non-cream version is just as tasty (at least I have no problem wolfing it down.) I have made it with 1% milk (what I tend to have on hand) and used the 1/2 cup of cream, and that's less rich tasting, but still good; it would be fine for someone reducing calories or worried about sat fat. Don't think I would reduce the fat any further.

    1. megang

      Robin: Thank you so much for the insight. I'm eager to try it with whole milk and no cream ... it is pretty darn decadent with both. Have a great rest of the week, ~Megan

  4. Kristi

    How MUCH ricotta does this make?

    1. megang

      GREAT question, Kristi. So sorry that was missing and I'll update now. It yields about 1 cup. Enjoy!

  5. Shannon Oslick

    OMG I am SOOO hungry just looking at this! Making immediately.

  6. Shannon Oslick

    Alright well my excitement overcame me when I saw the ricotta toasts and I spastically posted a comment before actually reading any of the post. Once again hearing your battles & triumphs with wedding planning gives me a sense of ease that someone else is feeling the exact same way! & once again I find myself putting down a beautiful cookbook to turn back to making another recipe off of your blog =)

  7. Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas

    I love making ricotta but have never tried it with cream. I am so giving this a go.

    And in response to Emmarie, you absolutely can make it with lower fat milk. Ricotta is traditionally made from the whey leftover from cheesemaking. The difference will be in the creaminess of the ricotta and also the yield. The less fat in your milk, the smaller the curds and the smaller your yield.

  8. Francesca

    I have a serious love affair with ricotta and its goddamn expensive here in Holland. Why didn't I think to make it myself?! Now I'll be on the hunt for cheesecloth.. unless there's some kind of substitute?
    Inspired! Thanks!

  9. Kristi

    Great, thanks for that, Megan! Cheers :)

  10. Stacy

    I think you've been doing a fantastic job at summer, and good for you for being content with what did happen in this season! That's what it's about, right? And oh, what a lovely evening I'm now reminded of...! Thank you again for your hospitality, and for sharing with us a seat at that truly amazing picnic table.

  11. Isabelle

    So pleased to have discovered your site! I'm going to order your book too; have read all about it and am looking forward to delving into it! Will be back for more x

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Isabelle! Hope you had a great weekend, ~Megan

  12. joey @ 80 breakfasts

    I've made ricotta long ago but never got around to doing it again...now I definitely will! Thanks for the reminder! :)

  13. Kim

    Any suggestions for what to do with leftover liquid?

    1. megang

      Hi, Kim - You know, you can use it as a cooking liquid. We just let it drain away, sadly. It always breaks my heart a little but I'm not quite sure what else to do. Enjoy!

  14. Julia Tambor

    Wow, Love homemade Ricotta and love your site. SO happy to have found it. Can't wait to try this recipe out.

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