Do you want to know how to make ricotta cheese at home? It’s the most delicious cheese you can ever make. And you’ll forget ever going to the supermarket to get the grainy stuff. It’s so, because the normal process involves re-using the leftover whey.
Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese. The term ricotta means recooked, thus ricotta cheese literally means repurposed from leftover whey. Made by coagulating the remaining proteins – whey, after the casein – globulin and albumin have been used for primary cheese making.
Commercial producers reheat the whey together with extra milk and vinegar. The additional milk and whey protein will curdle, clumping together with the leftover curds.
Don’t be discouraged though. You can make better ricotta cheese from fresh milk. And, you’ll be surprised to know that it‘s pretty easy to make at home.
Depending on ingredient choices and varying amounts, ricotta cheese has creamy white appearance and slightly sweet taste. Lime juice for example will impart a tangy flavor.
Choose the best ingredients for your ricotta cheese
1. Milk. The more fat the milk has, the better the ricotta cheese will taste.
Get whole milk or pasteurized milk. But don’t use ultra-pasteurized milk. You cannot possibly direct it the way you wanted too.
Please don’t be mistaken. Skim milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk are all milk but have already undergone processing to remove fat. Likewise, you cannot use non-dairy milk because it won’t curd – coagulation of milk proteins forming lumps.
The common ricotta cheese on the market is made of cow’s milk. However, milk from goat, sheep, carabao and buffalo are great raw material too.
Needless to say, the first best ingredient you need to choose is milk.
2. Acid such as calamansi or lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or ordinary vinegar. It will be responsible for milk curdling.
Ricotta takes the flavor of the acid. Lime juice can also be used, but it has a strong tangy taste. Try using lemon juice first. If you have doubts, you cannot go wrong with plain white vinegar.
3. Use any cream. You don’t need to whip it so any cream is okay. Use whipping cream, single cream, table cream or all-purpose cream. However, scout for the best tasting cream you can find. All the best ingredients you add will affect the end flavor.
4. Small amount of salt. Almost everything you cook needs salt. Most recipes say, “add salt to taste.” But back in the days, it’s “add plenty of salt to preserve.”
However, for now, please add salt to taste and consider using Kosher salt. It melts easily and has a clean subtle flavor.
How to make creamy ricotta cheese from whole milk
This recipe yields about 500 grams of creamy ricotta cheese.
Gather the four ingredients.
- 2 liters of milk, either whole or pasteurized
- 225ml heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup cider vinegar, lemon juice or any acid of choice.
Gather cooking utensils.
- Heavy stainless steel pot
Follow the following steps to make creamy ricotta cheese.
- Lay a strainer in a nice big bowl, then lay a cheese cloth over the strainer. If you don’t have cheesecloth, don’t worry. You just need something the liquid can get through. A large coffee filter paper or a satin cloth will do.
- Pour the milk into the stainless steel casserole. Add cream and salt.
- Place over a medium heat until the mixture simmers or reaches 200°F. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking of solids to the pan bottom, thus preventing burnt milk and cream.
- Remember, don’t let it boil. It may curdle prematurely. Your intention is to curdle it with acid instead. Use a thermometer to monitor. If you don’t have one. Don’t be discouraged. Observe the side of the pot. Once you see formation of tiny bubbles, the temperature is set.
- Turn off the heat and add ¼ cup of cider vinegar. Stir. Let it rest undisturbed for about 15 minutes.
- Gently pour into clean cheesecloth and allow to drain for two hours. Drain longer if you want a drier cheese. The longer draining time, the drier it gets.
How to make ricotta cheese from whey
To make ricotta cheese from whey, use the same set of procedures but replace the whole milk with whey. The cream makes the end product creamier but you may continue without it.
You may use the leftover whey from making ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. However, because ricotta cheese whey has been treated with acid, the yield will be low. Whey from cottage cheese, which depends on microbes and enzymes, has a better chance of yielding more.
I tried making ricotta cheese but my mixture didn’t curd
I’ve spent the day trying to make ricotta cheese but I couldn’t make it curdle.
That’s an easy fix. Add more lemon juice or vinegar. Vinegar makes the mixture acidic, thus disturbing the milk protein structure and causing it to curdle together. Not seeing any reaction means the mixture is not acid enough.
Don’t throw away the whey
Use the leftover whey. Freeze it for later use.
Basically you can use it for any recipe that requires water. Use it for cooking vegetables, rice, macaroni and soups. Or, water it to plants or feed to ducks and chickens.
Although it’s repurposed, ricotta cheese is fresh without questionable chemical ingredients, unlike most commercial cheese on grocery shelves that are often laden with harmful chemicals.
Food labeling is mandatory in order to protect consumer welfare. However, you wouldn’t know how shady the manufacturers could get. They may hide questionable ingredients by omitting from ingredient lists or hiding in other common ingredients – allspice, natural flavor and natural colors.
You can also make ricotta cheese from any brand of whole milk. Or, from raw milk if you have easy access to dairy farms.
So in the end, making ricotta cheese yourself is beneficial. You can select the freshest milk possible, cheese of your liking, natural acid from fruits, and Himalayan salt if you wish.
Don’t add salt if you’re strictly cutting back on intake. It won’t hurt the recipe anyway.
I like eating cheese, except for too salty variants. Eat it too and or add into recipe of your liking. Top it on pasta, soup and pizza. Spread on bread loaf and use as herb and vegetable dip.
Check out my substitute for Parmesan cheese and Fontina cheese if you don’t have this available in your kitchen.