09 February 2009

Fresh Homemade Ricotta

Any time you make a lactic acid/rennet separated cheese, the left over whey can be used to make Ricotta, which is Italian for "twice cooked" or "to cook again." It is a cheese traditionally made from sheep's or cow's milk, which lends to it's softness. It is an unripened cheese and can be eaten immediately. 

A great thing to try, would be to make fresh Mozzarella and then use the left over whey to make fresh Ricotta, and then use the left over whey again in a bread recipe, using Ricotta or Mozzarella....   Hmm.

Another way it can be made, is to simply curdle fresh milk. It's cheaper than buying it in a tub, a breeze to do, it's quick, and even a great way to get the kids involved with cooking as well. There is a weird little giddy feeling that happens to me each time I make it.  

All you need is:

1/2 gallon of whole milk, minimally processed (fresh and organic is of course preferred)
1 to 1 1/2 t. ground Kosher salt, or to taste
3 T. fresh lemon juice 

Bring milk and salt to a simmer in a large pot. Do not boil or it will foam up. Add lemon juice and stir. Allow to simmer until curds form, around 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer curds to a mesh colander, or a cheese cloth or cotton lined colander, and allow to cool at room temperature. Cover and chill. This will keep in the fridge for a few days. You should have about 2 cups.

You can use this cheese in any way you would typically use Ricotta. I like to drizzle it with honey and serve with crackers.

The whey from this method can not be used again to make cheese, as the acid precipitated process removes all of the albumin proteins from the milk.  

You can however, use it as a soup stock, to cook pasta or beans in, mix in bread recipes, water your roses (or any other acid loving plant), feed your chickens, add to falafel mix, use to make sopas or tortillas, cook oatmeal, and many other things. The point is, it is packed with water soluble proteins, minerals, and vitamins.  Please, do not just waste it. I have even frozen it, and plan on experimenting with it as a bisque base soon. We'll see how that goes.  

Here's something to try that I made this weekend.

Fresh Ricotta Fusilli

1 lb Fusilli or other small pasta (I used Bionature's Whole Wheat Durum)
2 T olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
nice pinch of red pepper flakes 
sea salt, to taste
fresh Ricotta cheese
1/2 gallon whey
Make the cheese earlier in the day and reserve the whey in pot, covered.
Bring whey to a brisk boil and add Fusilli. I always salt my water but I didn't feel it was necessary with whey. Meanwhile, warm olive oil in a pan and add garlic and red pepper and sauté for a minute. When pasta is drained, toss with oil and garlic mixture and sea salt. Top with Ricotta and enjoy. Serves 4 to 6.


  1. I can't wait to try this -- maybe even tonight. I made fresh mozzarella and wasn't sure what to do with all the liquid. But I want to try your way with lemon juice and make ricotta. It's SO expensive in the store (the fresh mozzarella didn't turn out to be cost effective) and we love to make lasagna, though it ends up costing so much it's not really affordable. Maybe making the ricotta fresh will solve this problem!

    Thanks for this totally timely post. I'll let you know how it comes out!

  2. THIS is a great post. I would love to start making some cheeses and this seems like a great place to start.

    Thank you for your comment on my page. Next time I'll smoosh the heck out of those scallops.