Ricotta cheese is probably most well-known for its use in lasagna. Although it’s a key ingredient in lasagna and other Italian dishes, it is extremely popular in other ways including cannoli’s, pairing with fresh fruit, on pizza, and even on pancakes or toast.
It’s not only extremely versatile but also incredibly easy to make and perfect for beginners. It is very quick to make which allows you to enjoy your ricotta the same day as making it. That quick of a turnaround is not normally common when it comes to many cheese recipes.
Ricotta actually means “cooked again” which is a perfect explanation of what’s happening with the cheese. Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese and is made from leftover whey after making other cheeses. It’s an effective way to use up any leftover whey without it going to waste and instead of producing quick and delicious cheese.
Compared to most cheeses, Ricotta is a healthier alternative because it has less fat and salt. It has a light, yet grainy texture and mild flavor that allows it to transition from sweet and savory dishes seamlessly. Swap your morning yogurt with Ricotta cheese, incorporate it in your cheesecake recipe, add it on top of pizza, or use it in a savory tart, the possibilities are endless of what you can use Ricotta cheese for!
There are a couple of different ways to make homemade Ricotta. We included two different recipes below that are very popular for you to choose from when making your Ricotta cheese. The recipes differ in ingredients but are very similar in steps. You can try each recipe and determine what your preferred Ricotta results are and stick to that recipe as you will definitely be making it over and over again. Especially if you’re making Ricotta to use up your leftover whey, you can easily plan on making Ricotta cheese anytime you make a different cheese recipe.
Skill Level: Beginner
- Whey from non-acid set cheese-like Halloumi
- 8 tsp of Vegar
- 1 Tbsp of Salt
Heat the Whey
- Heat your whey up until it boils. When it reaches 200 F you can remove from heat
- You can do this by placing the whey in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this step on the stove, be sure to slowly heat the whey and stir to avoid burning.
Add Vinegar and Salt
- Immediately after turning off the heat, add vinegar and salt and stir to combine
Allow it to Rest
- Allow the curds to rest by covering it for 1-2 hours
Drain the Cheese
- Using a ladle, transfer the curds into a colander that’s lined with cheesecloth or Ricotta basket
- Allow the mixture to drain for 1-2 hours depending on desired creaminess
Season the Cheese
- Once done draining, you can season your cheese.
- We highly recommend chives or cracked black pepper which both pair beautifully with ricotta.
- 2 gallons of fresh Whey
- ½ cups of distilled white Vinegar
- Sea salt
- 1 gallon of milk
Heat the Milk & Whey
- Slowly heat your milk and fresh whey up it reaches 195 F.
- You want to ensure that your mixture doesn’t burn so using a double boiler may be useful. You can do this by placing the milk and whey in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this step on the stove, be sure to slowly heat the milk and whey and stir to avoid burning.
- Do not let the mixture boil and stir consistently throughout the process.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and add the vinegar while still stirring.
- The whey will start to curdle during this stage
Drain the Cheese
- Carefully, transfer the curds into a colander that’s double lined with cheesecloth
- Allow the mixture to drain for 1 to 2 hours depending on desired creaminess
- After 1 hour of draining, you will have softer ricotta
- If you want to drain it longer, draining it for 6 hours or more, you will get a much firmer cheese consistency as your end result.