homemade ricotta cheese

homemade ricotta

My mother makes her own farmers cheese. Hers is a simple process, but a lengthy one that takes about a day, with milk and buttermilk slowly simmering together on the lowest heat imaginable until they slowly curdle and form amazing, delicate, tangy cottage cheese. It is a farmers cheese I cannot get enough of when I go home, and if it traveled well, I’d be bringing lots back to New York with me. Unfortunately, I cannot give my cheese experiments twenty-four hours – I have to leave the apartment building for work, gym, errands, and something about an unattended pot makes me anxious.

i heart this milklemons make me smile

But ricotta cheese – that’s another story. It takes very little time to make and most of it is hands-off time – letting the milk boil, draining the curds. Simple and quick! And I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to actually make it. So simple, it’s nothing more than a few simple ingredients. When combined, they do something transformative and magical and create delicious, creamy ricotta.

cream, being poured

These are the kinds of things in the kitchen that really put a smile on my face. I generally like to putter around in there and find contentment in chopping things and baking and braising. But things like baking bread or making ricotta cheese, or butter, these are things that make me feel closer to the elements. They’re truly simple pleasures: basic, fundamental and true.

pushkin's first day at home

Which brings to another basic, fundamental and true thing: love. As I type this, a tiny furry creature is curled up to my right, blissfully asleep. Periodically, he sighs, rolls over and falls back asleep. World – meet Pushkin McLovin’ – a new addition to the Sassy Radish household. He’s mighty pleased meeting you and he’s super playful and very soft and I’m terribly, terribly smitten with him. I’m not sure at what point I fell in love with him, but here I am, a little unsure of what’s next, but very excited to have him. It feels very simple and basic and wonderful.

readying the cheese cloth

Back to ricotta – I can’t stress how easy it is to make and how delicious. I’m pretty sure that once you try this at home you may never buy the store version ever again because it is a pale, pale comparison to its homemade cousin. It also has a million uses, from stuffing manicotti, to cannoli filling to something I’ll talk about in my next post. Because I like to keep you guessing.

homemade ricotta

Which I think is what Pushkin will do as well – keep me guessing for awhile. What kind of cat will he be? Lively or mellow? Affectionate or aloof? Only time will tell, but I can tell you this much – this not knowing, is actually quite nice.

Homemade Fresh Ricotta
Adapted from Gourmet
April 2006

6 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

You will need a cheesecloth for this.

1. Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

2. Slowly bring milk, cream, and 1/2 tsp salt to a simmer in a 6-qt heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice. Turn off the heat and allow the liquid to sit, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.

3. Pour the liquid into cheese cloth-lined strainer and let drain for 1 to 6 hours, depending on how wet or dry you want/need your ricotta to be. Refrigerate and consume within 1 week.

Makes about 2 cups


  • Olga

    my grandparents have always made fresh “tvorog” on their own. It was so good.
    This is very similar to the Indian cheese I’ve made once (but there was no cream).

  • Jennifer

    I discovered the ease and joy of making fresh ricotta a few months ago. Can’t believe it took me so long to try, but I’m a total convert now. It’s a great appetizer smeared on crusty bread with a drizzle of honey—in fact even the kids love it. And I bet Mr. Pushkin wouldn’t mind a tiny taste either.

  • Michaela at The Gardener's Eden

    Oh – my – God. Look at that thing. That is the sweetest face ever. I was all excited about your ricotta, but you know, you just really distracted me and I can’t even think straight now. Memories of Doctor Goof’s kitten-hood are all flooding back now. I am such a sap.
    I will need to keep coming back here every few hours to look at McLovin’, (crack me up, is that from the movie?)

  • Radish

    Michaela – yeah, he’s Pushkin McLovin’ named for the Russian poet and the Superbad character.

  • Jason Sandeman

    I remember one time a chef I had forgot to order ricotta. Thing was, it was in the sig calzone. LOL. I saved the day with the fresh ricotta. I still remember how the chef was leaning over my shoulder threatening me with my life if I messed up the cream. Ironic.

    Great job on the post! I love the cat as well. Checking out business, I presume. LOL

  • Emily

    This post contains two things I adore: homemade ricotta and cats, more specifically kittens. Pushkin is so adorably cute! Also, love the name. And, as for homemade ricotta, well, my oh my was it a discovery the first time I made it at home.

  • Barbara

    Homemade ricotta doesn’t look all that impossible to make! You’ve simplified it with your directions and photos.
    Now Pushkin McLovin….he is adorable! That face! I could cuddle him for hours. (if he’d allow it!)

  • codfish

    Oh, thank you, thank you, for reminding me to make ricotta. We found a wonderful dairy farm out in PA this weekend and I have a whole load of fresh milk.

    And, ahh, cuteness abounds! Pushkin is beyond adorable! Take looks of pictures, they grow up too quickly.

  • Radish

    Robin, unfortunately, the last 48 hrs have been tough in that I’m apparently allergic to Pushkin and have had to give him back to the foster home, but good news is they already have someone for him. I am very sad, obviously… i grew attached instantly and not seeing his little face this morning just killed me.

  • Leslie

    Oh no!!! I can’t believe you had to give little Pushkin up!!! I was so looking forward to seeing him grow up and wind himself around your heart like they always do!

  • Raluca

    Oh, no, sorry to hear about Pushkin. I have the same issue. I love cats too but am also allergic to them. :( I realized that when visiting a friend of mine who has a cat.

    I, too, would like the farmers cheese recipe. My grandma used to make it but my memory of the process is blurred. She would boil the milk (we got non-pasteurized milk) and let it sit but I can’t remember for how long.

  • Lidia

    Will definitely try making this delicious ricotta cheese. And would you please post your mom’s recipe for farmers cheese. Thank you so much! Love your blog!!!

  • Radish

    Thanks all for your lovely words! To those who want my mom’s farmer’s cheese recipe, will post in December. I want to go home, take pictures while she does it and then will write about it. :)

  • Nastassia

    Wow I never thought to make homemade cheese but I love your step by step and I’m going to have to try to make this ricotta sometime soon! Great post!

  • Maria

    I need to try making my own, looks so easy! We make our own yogurt and I wish I would of done it years ago, I am sure this will be the same!

  • Sassy Radish

    […] a necessary step because store bought ricotta just won’t cut it, and you see in the previous recipe just how easy it is to make ricotta at home. Moreover, I read somewhere, in relation to this recipe […]

  • Food Pervert

    […] though, I’m excited about Saddy Radish’s homemade ricotta recipe. I’m going to make it next week to have with some homemade pizza. It seems I can finally be […]

  • Allison Arevalo

    I love making homemade ricotta – it is so easy and almost a no-brainer after the first time making it.

    I have to say, I so love your blog! There are so many fantastic food blogs out there, but yours is at the top of my list. I think I enjoy your writing even more than your recipes and your photos, if that’s even possible :)

  • Radish

    Allison – wow, thanks, I’m totally blushing and it’s only 6am!! :) I am equally as smitten with your blog and writing!!

  • Rachel

    You’re photos are great. I recently made homemade ricotta and used it as a base for a simple bruschetta – if anyone’s interested, take a look on my blog.

  • tralala

    It looks really nice :) But I would like to point out that this cheese can not be called “ricotta”, it is rather a milk curd. The word ricotta means “cooked twice” because you use the milk to make cheese first (the first cooking) and then you reheat the leftover liquid to make ricotta. This is why the real ricotta contains a very small percentage of fat. In this case the addition of cream gives the curd a nice texture and taste, but it makes it even more different from real ricotta.

  • Radish

    Tralala – that’s very interesting. I never knew that. I’ve seen so many recipes for “ricotta” with this method. I’ll have to investigate this further. Thanks for the information – love learning stuff like that!

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  • Nick L

    dude, you forgot to swap out the Gourmet magazine quantity of salt when you were “adapting” their recipe……

  • olga

    Nick L – how so? I happen to add more salt to my ricotta. if you prefer to add less, feel free to do so. not sure why adapting is in quotes. also – “dude”?

  • Nick L

    dude, because a man’s image appears on the cover of my book–you are “olga”? I’m sorry, I presumed you were the Marc on the cover.

    you list two quantities of salt (1 1/4 tsp / 1/2 tsp) in an extremely brief recipe. the two quantities are not the same. none of your instructions account for this difference.

    so let me rephrase my query. after step 2, what do I do with the remaining 3/4 tsp of salt? ;-)

  • olga

    Nick L – I wrote the book with Marc. On my “About” page you’ll learn I’m not a dude :) Btw, I realized I had a horrible typo with salt. Fixed now – so sorry! And thank you for pointing it out.

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