Ricotta cheese is brilliantly versatile, and this easy step-by-step will walk you through how to make a slightly simplified version.

To make ricotta cheese, milk is heated until the curds and whey separate. The curds become the basis for varieties such as mozzarella, while reheating the whey produces the moist, fine grains that traditionally create ricotta (hence the name, meaning “twice cooked”). It’s brilliant crumbled over pasta, roasted with sweet cherry tomatoes and lemon, or even sweetened and stuffed into crunchy cannoli.

It’s surprisingly easy to make your own at home – try our cheat’s ricotta recipe, using whole milk.

Find the full ingredients list at the bottom of this step-by-step feature.

add salt to milk

Pour the milk into a large, deep saucepan and place over a medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and stir until it has dissolved.

Add vinegar to milk

As the milk comes to the boil, lots of small bubbles will appear on the surface. At this point, stir the milk with a wooden spoon, remove the spoon and pour in the vinegar. Small lumps will start to rise to the surface as the milk curdles. These are the curds.

Stir the curds

Use the spoon to gently draw the curds into the centre of the pan to make room for more curds to rise at the edges.

Put muslin in the strainer

Once the mixture starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and leave for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth or muslin in a large strainer, and place the strainer over a large bowl. A sieve would work, too, but it needs to be wide and shallow so that there is enough surface area for the curds to drain properly.

MORE: Watch Jamie’s video for Aubergine, tomato & ricotta pasta

Remove curds from pan

Remove the lid from the pan and allow the steam to escape. Using a slotted spoon, gently lift the curds out of the pan, shaking the spoon to remove any excess liquid. Place the curds into the strainer. Or, alternatively, pour the mixture through the strainer, gently stirring to push all the liquid through.

Strain the curds

Allow the curds to sit in the strainer for 15 minutes.

Squeeze the curds

Wrap the cheesecloth or muslin around the curds and squeeze gently to remove more liquid until you reach the desired consistency.

Finished ricotta

Use the ricotta immediately, or allow to cool completely and store in the fridge and use within 2 days.

Makes 300g

INGREDIENTS

2 litres whole milk, cow’s or goat’s

sea salt

100ml rice vinegar, or white vinegar

1 large piece of muslin or cheesecloth

Nutrition info (per 100g of cow’s milk ricotta): 122 kcals, 6.8g fat, 4.4g sat fat, 6.4g protein, 8.8g carbs, 8.8g sugars, 0.68g salt, 0.0g fibre.

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