Making Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta Cheese in Bowl

Making ricotta cheese is a skill you'll appreciate for a long time to come. Tasty and versatile, ricotta is a traditional, fresh Italian cheese with a mild flavor and fine, delicate curds.

The word ricotta means "cooked again," a reference to the fact that traditional ricotta is made from cooking whey that was produced from making a previous cheese.

Less traditional, but more practical, are recipes that produce a similar cheese from milk, without the need for whey.

This article will give you three different recipes for making ricotta cheese. They produce similar results. Try them all and see which you prefer.
The following recommendations apply to all the recipes:

Remember when making ricotta to handle the curds gently, and use a quality cheese cloth. Also, when draining, do not apply pressure to the curds--let them drain naturally.

You can control the moistness of the cheese by the length of draining time. A shorter time will produce a moist cheese that will stick together, while more time can be added for a dryer cheese. You can also stir in a small amount of milk or cream to create a rich, smooth texture.

When the curds reach the consistency desired, place in a bowl and add salt (about 1/4 tsp. per cup of curds is a good start, but adjust to your own taste). Store in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze ricotta with good results.

OK, choose your recipe, and have fun!


How to Make Ricotta the Traditional Way

To make ricotta in the traditional way, you will first need to save the whey from making another type of goat cheese that was not produced with an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice.

Let the whey sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours to continue the fermentation started by the bacterial cheese culture. This will acidify the whey, promoting the separation of the protein to form the cheese.

Slowly heat the whey to 195-200° Fahrenheit while stirring. Do not allow to boil.

Very tiny white particles should start to appear at the top of the whey. Remove from heat and pour into a cheese cloth-lined colander. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and hang to continue draining. Drain for an hour or longer, depending on the consistency desired.

Variation

Because the yield from ricotta made in the traditional fashion is very low, milk is sometimes added to produce more curd. Simply add 1 quart of milk per gallon of whey, and proceed in the same manner.


Milk and Vinegar

This is a very simple recipe, requiring only milk and vinegar.

Note: Lemon juice can be used as a substitute for vinegar.

Heat the goat milk to 185° Fahrenheit. Add in about 1 tablespoon of vinegar for each quart of milk as you stir. The milk should begin to curdle and stick to the whisk or spoon. If not, add in a few more drops of vinegar until it does.
Adding Vinegar to Make Ricotta

Ricotta Curds on Whisk


Pour into a cheese cloth-lined colander placed over a bowl or in the sink to drain. Drain for several minutes up to several hours.

Place the curds into a container and store in the refrigerator.
Ricotta Curds in Cheesecloth

Putting Ricotta Curds in Bowl


Milk and Buttermilk

In this recipe, buttermilk is used to acidify the milk for precipitating the curd. (See how easy it is to make your own fresh buttermilk in How to Make Buttermilk.)

Add 1 quart of buttermilk for every gallon of whole goat milk. Heat slowly, stirring, until the mixture reaches 185° Fahrenheit. Stop stirring when you begin to see small, white curds forming at the top.

Remove from heat, and pour gently into a cheese cloth-lined colander placed in the sink or over a bowl. Drain until the desired consistency is reached.


Make Mozzarella Cheese at Home


You can get all the supplies needed for making 30 batches of ricotta cheese in the convenient 30-Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit from Cultures for Health.


Articles are updated frequently, so check back here for any new information related to making ricotta cheese!

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