This easy, ultra-creamy, 4-ingredient ricotta recipe is super simple to make. All you need is milk, cream, lemon juice and salt, plus cheesecloth and a fine mesh strainer. Ready in less than 1 hour, including straining time. This is a small batch recipe, about 1 cup, which is perfect for most recipes, like cookies and ravioli filling- no waste. Method adapted from American Sfoglino.
- 3 cups whole milk (DO NOT USE ultra pasteurized milk)
- 1 cup cream (ultra pasteurized is fine)
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, strained
Notes, Tips & Substitutions:
- Read the entire recipe a few times before starting. Some of the steps happen quickly!
- Do not use ultra-pasteurized milk; it won’t curdle properly.
- White or red vinegar can be used instead of lemon juice.
- If doubling the recipe, you won’t be able to drain the mixture in a 7 or 8 inch strainer; it won’t fit. Work in batches and adjust your strain time accordingly. Or use 2 strainers if you have them.
- Line a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth. Set over a large, deep bowl.
- In a heavy bottom pot, add the milk, cream and salt. Adjust the heat to medium-high.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, approximately 200-206 F/ 93-97 C. Do not boil aggressively; the ricotta will be rubbery. Tip: stir the mixture frequently as it begins to heat up. Do this with a wooden spoon in a “figure 8” motion so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Scorched milk = bitter ricotta. The mixture is heated correctly when you see frothy bubbles along the sides and larger bubbles in the center. Use a digital thermometer to check (optional). Once the mixture has come to a boil, the next steps happen quickly and in succession. Do not lolly-gag around!
- In this order: immediately add the lemon juice. Stir only one or two times to distribute. Turn off the heat. Do not stir; the mixture will start to curdle. Let it sit (untouched) on the warm turned off burner for 10 minutes. Small and large curds will float to the surface.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the curds into your lined strainer to drain.
- Strain at room temperature, about 10-15 minutes for light and fluffy ricotta. If you want a drier texture, strain for longer. The ricotta will get more firm when stored in the refrigerator; take this in account when estimating your straining time.
- Portion the ricotta into an air-tight container. Store in the fridge, for up to 4 days. Enjoy!
Keywords: homemade, ricotta, Italian, easy, recipe, milk, cream, lemon, juice, vinegar, cucina povera