Easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Love lasagna or stuffed shells?  Forgot to buy the ricotta cheese?homemade ricotta cheese

Got milk? 🙂

No problem.

If you have a gallon of milk, you can make enough ricotta cheese, quickly, to complete your recipe.

This works best if you have two pots to nest together to make a huge double-boiler – otherwise you’ll have to watch and stir while the milk heats so it doesn’t scorch and burn and make, um, smoky ricotta.  Don’t ask me how I know.  May I strongly recommend the double boiler?!

Heat a gallon of milk to 185 degrees Fahrenhreit.  A candy thermometer that clips on to the side of the pot makes it easy.  One of these days I’ll get one of those thermometers that beeps when it gets to the temperature I want… If you have to leave and your milk gets to 200 degrees – it’s OK.  It will still work.  Once again, don’t ask me how I know.  The milk can be whole, 2%, skim, even non-fat reconstituted dry milk.  If you use dry milk, I’ve found it works best if you’ve made the milk up the day before.

When the milk reaches the right temperature, remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup vinegar.  It can be white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.  You might want to gather your children or friends around to impress them with your newly-acquired cheese-making skills.  The milk will curdle within a few seconds.  Stir for about a minute, then pour into a cheesecloth-lined colander.  (If you want to save the whey, put the colander into a bowl.)  You can also use a clean pillowcase if you don’t have cheesecloth.

Let the curds drain until there is no more whey – stirring will help this process to go faster.  It takes a little longer with a pillowcase than with cheesecloth. This will make about 2-3 cups of ricotta cheese.

Voila!  Ricotta cheese ready for your recipe!  If you want to store the ricotta, stir in a little salt to taste, add some milk or cream to get the consistency you like, and refrigerate.  I usually make this right when I need it, so it’s usually moist enough to use right away.

This also makes a great “squeaky cheese”.  I have a flat-bottomed colander – well, it’s actually the strainer of a two-part pasta pot – but anyway, if I leave the cheese in there for an hour or so, it drains and forms a flat round of white cheese.  Turn this out onto a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  We like to sprinkle this with seasoned salt, cut into cubes and serve.  My children DEVOUR this!  Unseasoned, it also is delicious crumbled onto pizza (if you’ve run out of mozzarella…).

Having a quick and easy way to make delicious cheese is frugal and works for me!  Check out the sites below for more tips.

Participating in:
Frugal Friday
Works For Me Wednesday

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21 comments to Easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese

  • Patti – no, it doesn’t only have to be whole milk. Thanks for asking, since I had planned to put that in the post! I’ve updated it.

  • Way cool.

    Query: Does the milk need to be whole milk for this to work?

  • Wow – great tip!

    Thanks for the comment on my post. I’ve been a bit light on posting these past couple of months and it was lovely to get a comment 🙂 I’m going to have a ponder through your archives now 🙂

    And also? Nine children? You are my hero. I only have three and clearly, from my WFMW post, I’m already having issues! LOL.

  • Great post! I have many recipes for homemade cheese, but have never been brave enough to try it. You make it sound really easy. I will have to do it…by the end of 2009 🙂

    • Kristen – do try it – it really is easy! This was my basic cheese recipe to “use up” milk when we were milking 5 goats and getting nearly 2 gallons of milk a day. I would usually use 4 gallons of milk, and make a double boiler with my big stainless steel stock pots. 🙂

  • This is awesome! I can’t wait to try! My question tho, what do you use to know the temp. of the milk?
    I wandered over here from MckMama’s on Monday just so you know, I didn’t just like appear out of no where..lol

  • LongTribe

    WOW! This post makes this seem super super easy. I may have to make a gallon of dry milk just to try it out! Thanks for sharing this!

    Dacia for the LongTribe ; )

  • Hi! This looks like a wonderful recipe! I can’t wait to try it. I do have one question though…how much cheese does one gallon of milk make?? And how long would you say the cheese will keep in the refrigerator? (I guess that’s two questions…)

  • Wow! I’m so glad you posted this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to make lasagna, but ricotta wasn’t on sale and I didn’t want to pay the exorbitant price. Now I don’t have to worry about it! Thanks so much!

  • Sylvia – I haven’t measured in a while…but I do know that 1 gallon of milk will make enough cheese for a 9×13 pan of my lasagna recipe. I’d guess probably 2-3 cups. It will keep for a week in the refrigerator. We’ve never made it longer than 2 days because it gets eaten – FAST!

  • Thank you for posting this recipe. I tried it last night and it was so easy, and so yummy!! There’s not a curd left. LOL I used it to make stuffed shells with and it was some of the best I’ve ever made. The cheese filling was so creamy. Thanks again for posting this. Oh, and the kids loved watching it separate!

  • sjbraun

    I had no idea you could make this – bookmarking. Thanks!

  • I’ve been making yogurt for a few months and I’m ready to try something new. I think I’ll make ricotta for our next pizza night. I thought you need to use whey from whole milk, but I guess there are different methods?

    • Kimarie

      Yes, the traditional method of making ricotta is to heat the whey left over from making other cheese (that used rennet), then add whole milk. I’ve done that before when I’ve made mozzarella – it makes creamy, finely-grained curds that are worth the extra effort. This is a simple and quick method for everyday use. We actually just used some this past Friday on our own pizza!

  • Awesome! Thank you so much for this. I once had someone tell me I could do this, but I couldn’t remember what he said. I love all your work-arounds, too, including the pillow case! I am so going to try this. Maybe even today!

  • I haven’t made a batch of ricotta in too long! My recipe is just a little different but equally delicious, I’m sure. I linked on my weekly roundup (post is under my name) – thanks for sharing!

  • I really enjoy making my own ricotta (we call it Tvorog.) I usually make it with a buttermilk/milk mixture by last week I decided to experiment and try other souring agents. I posted my results on a blog, together with my recipe. http://cuceesprouts.com/2011/04/homemade-farmers-cheese/

  • Another great post I have bookmarked for future reference. I do not buy ricotta cheese on principle because 1. it’s not from organic milk, and 2. it has too many additives. Now I can make my own, I am looking forward to cooking up some yummy pasta dishes. Thank you!

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