Fresh Ricotta

Prep Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
Makes 2 3/4 cups

Fresh ricotta is best the day it's made but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to four days. Martha made this recipe on Cooking School episode 412.


  • 8 cups (½ gallon) best-quality whole milk

  • 1 ½ cups best-quality heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons), strained to remove pulp

  • Stewed Rhubarb (optional)


  1. Combine milk, cream, and salt in a 4- to 5-quart pot, and warm mixture over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching, until mixture registers 195 degrees on a candy thermometer. It should take about 15 minutes.

  2. Add lemon juice, gently stirring until just combined. Remove pot from heat and let stand 5 minutes. The combination of the acid and the residual heat in the mixture will cause it to coagulate, or curdle -- separating into a soft mass (curds) and a cloudy liquid (whey).

  3. After lining a mesh colander with a triple layer of cheesecloth and placing it inside a deeper, slightly larger bowl, gently pour curds and whey into colander. Let mixture stand, pouring off whey occasionally, until most of whey has drained from still-wet curds, 20 minutes.

  4. Gather up ricotta in cheesecloth and turn it out into a bowl. Serve within a few hours, or refrigerate up to 4 days. For a denser ricotta, which can be preferable for baking, hang it to drain for another hour. Repurpose whey or discard it.


Cook's Notes

Fresh ricotta may be an uncomplicated cheese, but it's far from plain. Serve a fluffy mound of it (instead of butter) with bread, or add it to a bowl of pasta. And combined with honey and figs, it yields an all-in-one fruit-and-cheese plate. Brilliant. Don't waste the protein-rich whey that drains out of the ricotta curds. Freeze it in ice-cube trays and use in smoothies, or simply enjoy it as is, poured over ice.

Related Articles