I wanted to make a Baked Rigatoni Casserole yesterday, pasta tossed in a thick and beefy mushroom Bolognese sauce, creamy melted mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and of course, ricotta cheese. Although my local grocery store is almost back to normal, (still a lot of bare shelves) they didn’t have all the ingredients. I was able to get everything I needed for the baked rigatoni with the exception of ricotta cheese.
Luckily ricotta is a very simple cheese to make and only requires about 15-minutes’ worth of work, three ingredients (dairy, vinegar or lemon and salt) and a piece of cheesecloth.
The second bit of luck is that Homemade Ricotta Cheese is about a thousand times better than store-bought. Some cheeses are meant to be eaten right away as soon as you make it, Ricotta is one of them. Anytime I see a prepackaged ‘fresh’ type of cheese that has a really long expiration date on it, it makes turn my nose up, lol I know how dull and flavorless it’s going to taste.
When making this cheese, the type of dairy depends on what fat content you want in your Ricotta. You can make it with anything from skim milk for a low-fat version, all the way up to heavy cream for a very rich, and decadent ricotta.
The yield is usually around 1:3, the finished product is roughly around 1-cup of Ricotta cheese for every 3 cups of half & half that you start with.
I usually make my Homemade Ricotta Cheese recipe using half & half, I like the consistency and flavor. However, if you’re going to make cheese, you should definitely experiment with the different types of dairy products in order to find the one that suits you best.
I’ll make the Baked Rigatoni casserole tonight, I’ll let you know how it turned out tomorrow.
Here is my recipe for Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- 4 Cups Half & Half
- 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar Or the juice from 1-large lemon
- 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
- Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the half & half and the salt. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring often until it comes to a boil. Then remove from the heat.
- Add the vinegar or lemon juice and stir, the mixture will curdle and separate into curds and whey.
- Place a piece of cheesecloth into a mesh strainer over a large bowl. Gentle pour the Ricotta cheese into the strainer and let it drain for approximately 15-20 minutes. Discard the liquid.
- Use immediately or refrigerate for 1-2 days, no sense making fresh cheese if it's just going to go stale!