Ricotta means ‘recooked’ in Italian. It takes its name from the cooking process of reheating the sweet whey from a rennet-made cheese after it has acidified further, for the proteins left in the whey to form another curd mass. So, while this cheese isn’t really ‘ricotta’ by definition, the name has stuck outside of Europe, and the process is very similar to a traditional ricotta.
As fresh whey is not readily accessible to most people, this cheese can be made this way quite easily at home and can be used in recipes that call for ricotta, although it does have a shorter shelf life due to a higher fat content.
This version is quite rich and fatty with the cream addition, so if you wanted something a bit lighter remove the cream and use all milk, skim milk or make the traditional whey version.
For a deeper dive into cheese-making, including mastering whole milk ricotta, get your copy of Colin Wood’s There’s Always Room for Cheese.
How to Make Whole Milk ‘Ricotta’
- 3 litre (3 quart) heavy-based stainless-steel pot
- ricotta basket or colander/perforated tray for straining cheesecloth
- 1.9 litres (64 fl oz) cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk
- 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) pouring (single/light) cream
- pinch of sea salt flakes
- 45 ml (1 1/2 fl oz) vinegar, diluted in 50 ml (1 3/4 fl oz) water
- In a stainless-steel pot, heat the milk, cream and salt, stirring, until the mixture reaches 88°C (190°F). Constantly stir to avoid catching — if the milk catches on the bottom of the pot it will burn and impart an acrid flavour in your cheese. If it starts to catch, change the pot before continuing.
- While stirring vigorously, add the vinegar solution until you see flecks appear, then stir for a further 10 seconds and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Gently ladle the curds into a ricotta basket or cheesecloth-lined colander or perforated tray and strain for 15 minutes for a soft cheese, 30 minutes for a creamy but firm cheese, and 1 hour for a dry cheese. If the finished cheese is too thick you can thin it with a little of the whey or added milk.
- The softer version, served warm and whipped with fresh bread, quality olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, is a very good way to start a meal.
There’s Always Room for Cheese by Colin Wood (Hardie Grant, £28), Photography © Rob Palmer