How to Make Ricotta Cheese

How to Make Ricotta Cheese

Soft, fresh cheese is easy to make at home.  As long as you have whole milk around, there’s no reason to rush out to the store.

Do you remember the Miss Muffet rhyme?  Curds and whey?  That’s what we’re going to do.  Using heat and acid, we can separate liquid dairy products into curds and whey.

If the product is whole milk, you get ricotta (or queso fresco/farmer cheese/paneer; it has a different name in every country!) Heavy cream makes mascarpone.  2% or less fat milk makes cottage cheese curds.

The following tutorial will show you how to make ricotta cheese.

Homemade Ricotta (makes 2 cups)

1/2 Gallon Whole Milk (Goat or Cow, not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 cup white vinegar or 1/4 cup Lemon juice
Salt to taste
Cheesecloth
Cooking Thermometer

pict0001Preparing the Curds

1.  Put milk into stainless steel pot.  It’s important to NOT use any reactive metal pots, like aluminum or cast iron.  Those metals make the cheese taste off.

2.  Heat over medium until it reaches between 190 and 200 degrees.

pict0003-1
3. Slowly stir in vinegar or lemon juice.

4.  Remove from heat and allow to curdle and cool until it’s not too hot to touch.

Removing the Whey

5.  Pour cheese into cloth lined bowl. Pull together the 4 corners of cloth and twist around a spoon.

6.  Hang dripping cheese for a few hours.

pict0006
(BTW, it’s not touching the bottom of the bowl. It just looks that way.)

Season to Taste; Check the Consistency

7. Salt to taste and check consistency. I like a fairly hard cheese, so I hang it in the fridge overnight. That’s about the max.

8. Untie, (add any garlic or herbs or more salt, if you like) place in airtight container, and chill.

9. Depending on how long you hung it, it should be about 12-16 oz of cheese.

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Now you know how to make ricotta cheese!

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