making ricotta at home

I've always wanted to make cheese. Seriously. When I was a kid in the bathtub, I would take the crate that my toys were in, dump the toys and pretend to "cut" cheese (no, I didn't do that, you're gross!) like I saw on Mr. Roger's. 20 years or so later and I finally really did it!

I decided to make ricotta because it is most definitely a beginner's cheese. Plus, finding ricotta made with sheep or goat's milk in the states is impossibly difficult - and with the Italian we eat in this house, a solution to this problem was needed. Ricotta is more traditionally made with sheep and goat's milk, so no risk of it turning out super weird by substituting milks (Is this ever a problem? I don't know?)

After some research, I decided to try a few different methods. The first one I tried had you heating the milk until just below a simmer then stirring in the acid. But those directions were not specific enough. My simmer differed from the authors and led to ... nothing. Turned up the heat as suggested and went a little too hot. I did end up getting this to work using a thermometer and some more precise directions, but trying to keep such a specific temperature for such a short time ended up being quite an involved process which I found ridiculously, unnecessarily complicated.

The second method I tried was easier than boiling water. Pour milk and acid into a pot, let sit 24 hours. Place pot on stove and heat on low for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes. Strain. I think that's a recipe short enough to tweet, even though I don't tweet.

I like it.

I also liked making it. I mean, it was easy. I found that I needed to heat mine to about "2" on my stove, but I do suggest starting at the lowest setting and only increasing if you find it's not getting hot enough. I make mine in 8 cup batches (1/2 gal). I have made it with 1/4 c. vinegar and 1/4 c lemon juice, both of which worked equally well.

Using goat's milk, it is more expensive than buying Ricotta Salata and re-hydrating it, but it's waaaay better. It's much creamier and adds a little something to the recipes that was lacking when using the drier Ricotta Salata. I think Ricotta Salata is an acceptable substitute in a jiffy, but when cheese is the star of the dish, I would consider making your own ricotta.

Have you ever made cheese? If so, what kind? 


  1. Can I just say that I loved the Mr. Rogers cheese making episode? Watching the skim the whey, shape it, slice it, etc... I was such a food nerd even back then, and I didn't even realize it :-P

  2. Oh, and also, your ricotta rocked!

    (Aren't you so excited I've started commenting? Now I'm never gonna shut up) ;)

  3. I love that you started commenting! I was a food nerd apparently, although between now and then I set several kitchen live and learn (and have a fire extinguisher handy)


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