My mom, not only the woman who gave birth to me, but also the woman who gave me my love of cooking and baking, is visiting with my dad (PR spokesperson for my mom’s food) right now. So, being the culinary adventurers that we are, we decided we needed to make something that we had never tried before. You have to understand, that list is somewhat short. My mom is the type who made homemade yogurt in the 70s, always had a jar full of sourdough starter on the kitchen counter, and is constantly experimenting with new recipes and taste sensations. In fact, recently, on a trip to see my brother and his girlfriend in Portland (of Apizza Scholl’s fame), they made corned beef from scratch. So, perhaps owing to my ultra-competitive nature, and to the curious culinary adventurer inside me, we decided to make our own cheese.

We found our recipe for homemade ricotta in the current edition of Cooking Light magazine, which my mother brought with her on the plane (although I’ve noticed that there are tons of recipes for ricotta, all slightly different to be found online).

We filled a large stockpot with 2% milk and buttermilk and brought the mixture to 170F. Once we hit that temperature we stopped stirring, and the curds started to separate from the whey. At 190F, we removed the pot from the heat and gently ladled the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander that was set over a bowl. After the curds drained for about 5 minutes, we tied up the cheesecloth and hung it from the kitchen faucet for about 15 minutes to finish draining. Finally, we turned the ricotta out into a bowl, sprinkled it with salt, and tossed with a fork. YUM! This is definitely the best ricotta I have ever tasted.

We made 2 full batches of ricotta, about 6 cups total. On Sunday evening we are going to prepare a full ricotta tasting menu, including a delicious roasted veggie lasagne and a creamy ricotta and lemon cheesecake.

Who knew that making ricotta could be so easy? I for one will probably never (well, maybe in a pinch) purchase a tub of store-bought ricotta again. Not only is homemade ricotta cheaper, fresher, and far superior, think of how much you will impress your friends by telling them that you made the ricotta in the lasagne.

  • Lyle

    Wow. That does sound surprisingly simple.

    The recipe mentions that you might want to save the whey for another use… I hadn’t heard of using the whey before, is anyone familiar with what purposes one would keep the whey?

  • Kim Goodfriend

    It’s simple and REALLY delicious. In fact, we are planning to make a 3rd batch this morning so we can make ricotta pancakes. Supposedly you can use the whey as a replacement for water or milk in pancakes, quickbreads, waffles, and items like that.

  • Anonymous

    How much of each kind of milk are you supposed to use? That sounds wonderful and much easier than I thought cheese-making would be!

  • Kim Goodfriend

    The recipe I used called for 1 gallon of milk and 5 cups buttermilk. I would recommend purchasing the magazine (Cooking Light, April 2005) as it shows you step-by-step how to make the ricotta, as well as gives quite a few good recipes for using it.

  • Lyle

    The website mentions some great sounding recipes to make with the ricotta… I’ll probably pick it up soon as I make another newstand buy.

  • Owen

    Sounds great! I’ve made mozzarella before – I’ll have to publicise the lightning fast mcrowave method sometime, but not ricotta.

    You can use the whey for things like baking (instead of water) but in practice I’ve found it hard to use more than a little bit…

  • michele

    This is actually a more complicated recipe than the usual ricotta — I suppose the goal of “light” cooking has resulted in straying from the tried and true version: simply heat whole milk with an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar, which in turn “curdles” the milk into gorgeous lumps of ricotta. (of course buttermilk can be substituted with milk soured by the same acid…) You then drain the curds in cheese cloth until you achieve the desired dryness. It’s a great use for Costco-sized purchases of milk. I have always wondered what to do with the whey (besides feeding it to one Ms. Muffett)…

  • Chris

    Too bad I just found this post now. I tried a few ricotta recipes over the weekend using store bought ricotta. Total letdown. I should have taken this extra step of making my own.

  • Anonymous

    after allowing my yogurt to separate (I didn’t take it out of the maker in a timely manner…) I went looking for directions on making yogurt cheese. A by-product of which is whey. Ricotta was originally made from heating whey and an acid. The recipes for whey ricotta and milk ricotta seem to follow the same procedure. Some recipes call for adding milk or cream to your ricotta-from-whey ingredients.

  • Brenda Copeland

    You can make wine out of whey. Don’t have an exact recipe but will look for one.

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