Friday, March 13, 2009

Homemade ricotta cheese

I have been seeing people doing this all over the internet lately. I love ricotta, and this looked simple enough. All I needed was milk and buttermilk, and about 15 minutes! It was very cool to make my own cheese. I am glad I did it, but might not do it again. With all the milk I used, I only ended up with about two cups of cheese, and a whole ton of watery whey. There's not much you can do with whey as far as I can tell. People have suggested watering your plants with it, or using it to cook pasta or vegetables, but I still feel like it's kind of a waste. The cheese was really good, though. So maybe I will make this again. It was fun telling people I made ricotta and they're all like what?? you made cheese? when really, its super easy. 
Homemade Ricotta

1/2 gallon milk (I used organic 2%) 
2 c buttermilk

Combine milk and buttermilk in a heavy bottomed pan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring often to keep any milk from burning on the bottom of the pan. Stop stirring when the milk starts steaming. Using an instant read thermometer (I used a candy thermometer) and when the milk reaches about 175 degrees, it's done! The curds will have separated by now. Set up a strainer over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth, then carefully scoop the curds out of the pan into the cheesecloth lined strainer. Drain the cheese a few minutes, then add salt if you'd like (I like salty). Store in the fridge if you don't use it all immediately! 

Let me know if you come up with any good things to do with the whey!


  1. Great job! Ricotta bought in the store just doesn't cut it anymore, it just doesn't taste like the real thing! What to do with the whey? check out this website you can make more ricotta with the whey and tons of hommemade soft cheeses. Yummy!

  2. Anonymous3:48 PM

    That ricotta looks good! Makes me want to season the cheese with a little Italian seasoning and make a casserole of stuffed shells!

    I know the left over whey is very popular with boiling rice and pasta because of its nutrients. I also remember reading someone about a chicken marinade made with whey. If I can find it again I'll let you know.


  3. Anonymous4:21 PM

    To increase your yield you can use whole milk instead of 2%. Also, if you want to get more bang for your buck, there are other simple cheeses you can make first and then use the leftover whey to make true ricotta (meaning twice cooked). If you are interested in that, you should check out this link:

    Nice job! More people should try their hand at cheese making.

  4. That is amazing! And it's kind of nice to know you can make your own ricotta if in a bind too. Cool!

  5. Make mozzarella first from the milk and then make ricotta from the whey left over. You get less ricotta, but by using the 2-step process you have efficiently wrung just about all the solids out of the milk. Italian families do this all the time. Try:
    or see this blog:

  6. mmm.and I just bought some more cheese cloth yesterday!

  7. Anonymous8:41 AM

    You can use the leftover whey in smoothies or as the liquid for soups (it would be great in a potato soup). Leftover whey can also be used as a substitute for buttermilk, yogurt or sour milk in baking recipes such as muffins or quick breads. Whey to go!

    Norene Gilletz, cookbook author

  8. Yogurt cheese is really delicious too. Just set the yogurt in cheese cloth overnight and in the morning you have fresh cheese! It's really amazing if you use vanilla yogurt cheese on scones with jam.

  9. Anonymous5:41 PM

    how cool!
    i learn something new every day :)
    -erin @ glutenfreewithapurpose

  10. Anonymous12:42 PM

    As Infinitable implied, this is not really ricotta cheese: It is the basis of mozzarella cheese which is made by heating the curds until they melt and then working them sort of like kneading dough.

    Remember that milk contains two proteins: casein and whey in an 80/20% ratio. Most cheeses consist mostly of casein protein. Ricotta cheese is traditionally made of whey protein.

    So, if you use this method and then throw the whey out, you really have discarded the raw material for ricotta cheese. Actually, this recipe might be yielding a cheese product that is a combination of both proteins. Generally, to make mozzarella cheese, a bit of acid and rennet is used to coagulate the casein. And then the whey that's left can yield the ricotta.

    Of course, none of what I said will diminish that this recipe yields some great tasting stuff, regardless of what it actually is or what protein it contains!

  11. Anonymous12:46 AM

    where can you buy cheese cloth?

  12. Making Ricotta is so easy!!! And the final product costs a fraction of what you'd pay at Whole Foods!!!! I usually make mine with buttermilk but I have decided to experiment with various souring agents (lemon juice, vinegar, etc...) I posted pictures from my experiment on my blog: