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Ricotta (ree∙COT∙tah) means cooked again. Ricotta is made when the left over liquid from cheese making (whey) is cooked a second time. Vinegar or lemon juice is added to coagulate or curdle the whey and these curds make ricotta. Making ricotta at home from whey isn’t practical, since you need so much of it to make a small amount of ricotta. The do-it-yourself alternative is to use whole milk and the result is every bit as yummy. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, but it won’t last that long!

Freshly made ricotta drizzled with olive oil, ready to spread onto bread

Freshly made ricotta drizzled with olive oil, ready to spread onto bread

You will need:
2 L (8 cups) whole milk (3.25% MF). Organic milk is best. Do not use skim or low-fat milk! I have used lactose-free milk, but it has to be whole milk
1 tsp sea salt
45 ml (3 tablespoons) lemon juice or 60 ml (4 tablespoons) white wine vinegar or clear apple cider vinegar
If using cow’s milk, you can also add up to 250 ml (1 cup) cream depending on how creamy you like it

1. In a large pot, stir milk, cream and salt
2. Keep stirring over medium heat until the temperature reaches 80⁰ C (180⁰ F)
3. Add lemon juice or vinegar and stir briefly and gently. Be careful not to stir too much!
4. Keep on low flame for 5 minutes
5. If you start to see bubbles, add a small amount of cold water to keep the milk from reaching boiling temperature
6. Remove from heat and scoop ricotta out with a slotted spoon. Pour through a cheesecloth lined colander or a sieve

7. Let the liquid drain out, then turn it over onto a plate and ecco-la ricotta!

I like to use goat milk, which is naturally creamier. I have had the best results using lemon juice to curdle the milk, but any of the coagulants listed will work well. Do not use the cloudy kind of apple cider vinegar-it gives the ricotta a funny taste. After I made my ricotta, I used the whey to make about 3 tablespoons of ‘real’ ricotta and I added it to the ricotta draining in the colander. I did not notice a taste difference.
Do not throw out the whey! It is rich in vitamins and protein. I used mine to water my olive tree and peperoncini! You can also keep it for adding to soup or risotto, for making bread, or as a substitute for milk in cakes or other recipes.

Links to my other posts featuring ricotta:

Fiori di Zucca

Limoncello Ricotta Cookies

Tortelloni di Ricotta

Buon appetito!

Click here for help with Italian pronunciation.

Whey                              siero
Curds                              caglia
Goat milk                       latte di capra
Cow’s milk                     latte di mucca
Apple cider vinegar        aceto di mele
Whole milk                    latte intero
Lactose-free milk           latte senza lattosio
Skim milk                      latte scremato
Organic                          biologico
Colander                        colapasta
Do-it-yourself (DIY)       fai-da-te
Butterfingers                 Avere le mane di ricotta

Buon appetito, Cristina