Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homemade Ricotta Recipe to Farewell Bittman

Homemade Ricotta 2, edited

As I told you all last week, it is time now for us at I Heart Cooking Clubs to say our farewells to Mark Bittman, with whom we've been cooking for the last six months.  I think everyone was unanimous in the opinion that we had all learned a lot, and were all just a teeny bit sad to be saying goodbye.

I had great intentions of finishing with a flourish and making something spectacular to say goodbye to "Bitty", but somehow the week got away from me and that "spectacular something" just didn't happen.  In fact, I'm even overdue with this post, but I'm hoping I'll be forgiven.  I did, however, get around to doing something I have wanted to try for simply ages, and that is my first small foray into cheese-making - a batch (actually two as it turns out) of fresh homemade ricotta.  I found Bittman's recipe for this in the "How to Cook Everything" iPhone application, but if you don't have an iPhone you'll find it in the book.  I've watched the posts regularly at Forging Fromage for ages and have been trying to work up the courage to join in - then when I saw just how easy Heather (at girlichef) and Natashya (in the kitchen with her puppies) made ricotta-making seem, I knew the time was right to give this a go.

This could not be more simple to make, and I found that making my own cheese was deeply satisfying - makes me feel all kind of "earth mother" and "domestic goddess" all rolled into one (even though I am anything but).  I was surprised how "sweet" the end product tasted, but the best part of all is the smell.  I've given some to one of my students to try, so eagerly await her verdict, and the rest I have used in Baked Ziti with Ricotta (another Bittman recipe), which is in the oven as I type this, so you will just have to wait for a future post for the verdict on that.

Homemade Fresh Ricotta Recipe
From Mark Bittman's
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1.9 litres (1/2 gallon) milk
470ml (1 pint) buttermilk

First of all, line a strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth or piece of cotton muslin.

Put milk into a large saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring from time to time to stop it burning, until the milk bubbles up the sides of the pot - this will take about 10 minutes.

Add buttermilk to the boiling milk, and stir constantly until the mixture separates into curds and whey, which will start to happen almost immediately.  Remove pan from heat and stir in a pinch of salt.

Now set your cloth-lined strainer over a large bowl, or another saucepan,  and pour everything into the strainer.  The curds will collect in the cloth, and the whey will drain into the pan or bowl below.

Allow the curds to sit, undisturbed, for around 30 to 60 minutes, until they have reached the texture that you like.  Then scoop the curds into a container and store in the fridge.

Having got this far, and ended up with a lovely pot of ricotta sitting in the fridge, I still had a large quantity of the whey which had drained off that I was loathe to waste.  Wondering what to do with it, I got some advice from Natshya and Rebecca at Forging Fromage, who suggested saving it and using for making a batch of bread, which is a great idea and one which I will definitely use next time.  I also, however, came across a site with instructions for using the whey left over from making other cheeses to make ricotta.  Since I was so excited by the first batch of ricotta, I felt compelled to give this a try - worked perfectly and I ended up with a second batch which I think actually yielded even a bit more than the first batch.  Making the second batch was easy - literally just reheating the whey and cooking until the curds separate, allow the curds to sit and cool in the whey for a while, then drain - you can find full instructions here.

Two batches of ricotta from one lot of ingredients - what's not to love about that?!  If you're now wondering what to do with your ricotta now that you've made it - why not try these Ricotta & Spinach Gnocchi with Sage Butter.

Homemade Ricotta 1, edited

If you've enjoyed these last few month's with Mark Bittman don't forget to check out what others have been making over at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and stay tuned as we now begin six months of cooking with Giada de Laurentiis.  In the meantime, I highly recommend any of these Mark Bittman books:

How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food   How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food   Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 inspired seasonal dishes you can make in 20 minutes or less

Available from Amazon, Book Depository UK, and Fishpond NZ

I'm submitting this post to:

IHCC   forgingfromage  


  1. Hi Suzy Q my love! Yes, I am sad about Bittman leaving, but you know, you can always visit him on thursdays at my blog if you miss him! I adore, can't say it enough, adore home made ricotta, and if i have to make a recipe with store bought, I am not making it! I had not a clue about the second batch method of reharvesting more whey! VERY cool! Thanks so much, as always for your support and for sharing with us on the hearth and soul hop! :) HUGS! Alex@amoderatelife

  2. homemade cheese delicious
    check out the event in my site

  3. You have made this look so easy. I appreciate that, cheese making is on my list of things to do!

  4. Hey Sue...
    I like the domestic goddess thing...LOL ..and I wish everything were so easy as you've made this cheese making thing look!
    I am feeling "bitty" already ...seriously I betcha catch up my knowledge about the "how to " series !!! :)

  5. I love that "earth mother" feeling that making things from scratch gives too.
    Yay for your first cheese! So much easier to make ricotta than to even go out and buy it.
    Looking forward to more cooking and cheesing together. Cheers!

  6. I am still afraid of cheese - I need to get over it because I love feeling all earth mother/domestic godess-ee!! I learned to love Bittman through the IHCL. thanks for sharing this with us at the hearth and soul hop!!
    (oh, and so now you are a Green Goddess!)

  7. That's it, I'm making my own ricotta. You all make it sound so easy and how satisfying to make a dish with cheese in it that was homemade and not store bought. And I have to get one of Bitty's books (like I need another cookbook). Thanks for sharing your cheese-making! :o)

  8. Homemade cheese really is quite sweet isn't it? Even more fun than making it, is putting it into everything that you cook and having the satisfaction of "I did that!" Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop this week.

  9. I just made some homemade Ricotta and had some on a toast just this morning. It is so good.
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Wow, that is incredibly easy! I have homemade buttermilk in the fridge; I'm really tempted to try this tomorrow!

  11. Thanks everyone for visiting and leaving your much appreciated comments - I think I've managed to return the visits and drop in on you all.

    I loved making this ricotta - I doubt that I will ever buy it again - it was that easy! Sounds like so many of you love to channel your inner "earth mother/domestic goddess", so hopefully you'll have a go at making this.

    Sue :-)

  12. Awesome job, Sue! See? Making cheese is a piece of cake! I'm glad you've joined in the cheesy fun and that you shared it with the hearth and soul hop this week, as well. Bye, bye for now Bitty...we'll miss ya!! ;) ...p.s...it makes me feel all earth-mama, too (which I love):)

  13. wow, I'm always so impressed when people make their own cheese -nice work!

  14. I've loved seeing all the Bittmen recipes! I would have never thought to make this!! Looks really simple! Thanks!

  15. Heather - thanks. Yes, it really was a piece of cake, and has really given me the confidence to try making more.
    Simply Life - thanks for stopping by. It really was easy, but I love making things that are so simple, but deliver such a wow factor :-)
    Hi Debbi - thanks for visiting - hope you try it - it's beyond simple.

  16. Wow! You made your own ricotta! I've sooo been wanting to do that! It looks beautiful! I can't wait to give this a try.


  17. THis is fantastic. I have to try it too.

  18. I think making your own cheese is a perfect way to send out Mark Bittman--it looks delicious. I look forward to cooking Giada with you too! ;-)

  19. Lovely! I may have to try this. Thanks for the inspiration.

  20. I can't believe that I can actually make my own ricotta cheese, I am very impressed.

  21. I love how you're like, oh yeah I didn't do anything that grandiose. And then you go and MAKE. CHEESE. Amazing.

  22. Thanks Veronica, Barbara & Cook of the House - hope you give it a try - you will be astonished :-)

    Hi Deb - thanks for dropping in. Yes, Giada will be fun :-)

    Medifast - thanks.

    Joanne - thanks - you are so sweet, but it truly looks more impressive than it is.

    Sue :-)

  23. Pinned because the holidays are coming and this smeared on a piece of toasted baguette sounds tempting.


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