I first tasted fresh ricotta about 10 years ago. It was revelatory. Creamy, almost buttery, bits of cheese, full of flavor that melt in your mouth. Nothing at all like the watery stuff I grew up eating off supermarket shelves. Learning how to make it last year ranks in my top ten of foods I can no longer live without. A simple dollop livens up a standard tomato basil sauce, and it’s the key ingredient to making manicotti, an Italian pasta “crepe” filled with ricotta and baked with sauce.Creamy Homemade Ricotta
makes about 2 cups plus a few spoonfuls for taste testing
Keep in mind the ricotta will thicken in the fridge, so don’t drain it too much, or it’ll end up dry and cakey. I also like to let it come to room temperature before serving.
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add ingredients to a 4-quart pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.
Once curds begin to separate from the whey (liquid temperature will be between 175º and 200º), remove from heat, and let the pot mixture sit in the pot for 30 minutes—this helps the curds become more plentiful, resulting in a bigger yield (you can strain right away if you’re in a hurry, but keep in mind you’ll have more whey and less ricotta).
After the mixture “rests”, gently spoon or ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. You may need to gently gather the cheesecloth at the top to help the curds drain.
Let curds sit in cheesecloth to drain liquid 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how creamy you’d like your ricotta. Store in refrigerator up to two days.