Homemade Ricotta Cheese is one of the easiest cheeses to make. It takes less than an hour, and requires just two ingredients: milk and vinegar or lemon juice. Recently, I was inspired by a friend to start making my own cheese. As a beginner, ricotta cheese was the first cheese I tried.
Making your own cheese might sound intimidating, but I’m learning that there are a number of cheeses that are quite easy to make and don’t require a lot of fancy equipment. I love the fact that I can make fresh, organic ricotta cheese using just a pot, thermometer (temperature is important when making cheese), butter muslin (similar but finer mesh than cheesecloth), and a colander.
Homemade ricotta cheese has just two ingredients: fresh milk and an acid (either lemon juice or vinegar). I used organic whole milk that has been pasteurized and homogenized (you can use pasteurized un-homogenized milk if you can find it, but do not use ultra-pasteurized milk). The first couple of times I made homemade ricotta cheese, I used lemon juice. Then, I tried apple cider vinegar. Both work well, although the acidity of lemon juice may vary, so I am guessing that you might need to add a little more in some cases.
If you’re new to cheesemaking, ricotta cheese is a great beginner cheese because there are only three steps involved and it can be made in less than one hour:
- Heating the milk (you will need a thermometer)
- Adding the acid
- Straining the curds (you will need butter muslin, which can be purchased online)
More advanced cheesemaking might involve cutting the curd, molding the cheese, and aging the cheese.
My only fail making ricotta cheese was when I tried using grass-fed milk. The curds were very small and the yield was tiny. I have read that the yield depends on the milk, so once you find a milk that works well for you, stick to it.
Fresh ricotta is delicious served on toast, on top of pasta, as a filling for ravioli (I just learned how to make homemade ravioli from an Italian friend and we used my homemade ricotta cheese as the filling – so good!). You could serve fresh ricotta as a dip by drizzling some extra virgin olive oil on top and season with some salt, pepper, and dried herbs.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
I used organic pasteurized homogenized milk. Do not use ultra-pasteurized milk. Fresh ricotta should keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, or it may be frozen. This yields about 1 1/2 pounds of ricotta, depending on the milk you use.
- 1 gallon organic whole milk do not use ultra-pasteurized
- 2/3 cup organic apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- sea salt to taste
Equipment and Materials
- large stockpot
- slotted skimmer or ladle
- butter muslin
Pour milk into large pot. Heat on medium until temperature reaches 190-195 degrees fahrenheit, stirring often to avoid scorching at bottom of pot.
Gradually pour vinegar into hot milk, stirring gently until all vinegar is stirred in. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes until curds and whey separate.
Place a single layer of butter muslin in colander. Use slotted skimmer to transfer curds to muslin lined colander. Let curds drain for 5 minutes or longer, depending on how firm you like your ricotta cheese. Season with a little salt and toss to distribute salt.