Traditional ricotta cheese is made using whey left over from cheesemaking. While not as sweet or creamy as ricotta made using whole milk, traditional ricotta is a wonderful way to utilize whey that might normally be discarded.
- 2 gallons fresh whey (use within a few hours of straining)
- 1 gallon milk, optional (do not use UHT/UP milk)
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- Cheese salt or non-iodized salt
- A large pot (if metal, be sure it's non-reactive such as stainless steel)
- A wooden spoon
- Colander and coffee filter
- A thermometer
- Ricotta basket and storage Container, optional
- If using both whey and milk, combine the two. Using milk isn't necessary but does substantially increase yield.
- Gently heat the milk to 195°F. Consider using a double boiler to prevent scorching. Stir constantly and watch the temperature carefully. While it isn't necessary to be exact, be careful not to let the whey boil as it boils over easily and is very messy.
- Remove the whey from the heat and stir in the vinegar. The whey will begin to curdle and some of the curd will rise to the top.
- Place a colander in the sink and place a coffee filter (metal reusable filters are best for this) in the colander. Gently pour or spoon the mixture into the coffee filter and allow the whey to drain away. Be careful as much of the curd will likely settle on the bottom of the pot.
- Once the pot is empty, allow the ricotta to continue to drain. 1 hour is generally sufficient for a soft ricotta. 6+ hours may be needed for a firmer ricotta.
- Mix the ricotta with salt to taste.
- Consider using a ricotta basket and storage container so any remaining whey can drain and keep the cheese from becoming soggy while the ricotta is stored in the refrigerator.
Generally makes 6 to 8 ounces with only 2 gallons of whey (no added milk) but the yield can vary with each batch.
Store the ricotta in the refrigerator and use within one week.