The first time I made ricotta cheese it was by accident. About two years ago I was making homemade yogurt and the yogurt got too hot (yes, I turned on the oven and forgot it was on…twice). The curds separated from the whey making a wonderful Ricotta cheese! Yea, but I still didn’t know how to make homemade ricotta cheese on purpose. Come to find out, it’s very simple. AND it freezes very well. I make a batch and put it in 8oz jars in the freezer. Perfect serving size for a small lasagna, homemade ravioli, ricotta cheese cake, or on some fresh cut peaches.
If you do a quick search on the internet you will find that the recipes out there for ricotta and cottage cheeses are pretty much the same. Are they different cheeses? Yes. Traditionally they are made in different ways:
- Cottage cheese is made from curds
- Ricotta is made form leftover whey from making a cheese like Mozzarella.
- Cottage cheese is smoother and chunkier
- Ricotta cheese is grainier
This being said, in most recipes, cottage cheese and ricotta can be used interchangeably. Ricotta does have a different flavor because it has more whey in it, where most cottage cheeses in the supermarket have the whey taken out and are considered “sweet” cottage cheeses. But slight flavor and texture differences put aside, they are similar enough in almost all cases.
This recipe was put together to be versatile. I know people who make cheese who are always looking for ways to use whey. Well, here is one way. If you don’t have whey to use, just use 1 gallon of milk instead.
Yogurt of heavy cream is also an option. Some people do not add the yogurt until after you have a finished product. The added yogurt or cream makes for a creamier texture. I like to add the yogurt to the ricotta when it is cooking because i think it makes a richer flavor and creamier texture without changing it’s ricotta cheesiness.
Makes 3-4 cups.
Keeps in the refrigerator for about a week. Freeze if you aren’t going to use right away.
- 1 gallon of whey (If you do not have whey, use 1 gallon of milk total, add yogurt if desired)
- ½ gallon of milk
- **Optional: 1 cup plain yogurt (or heavy cream)**
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice (or distilled white vinegar)
- 1 tsp salt
- Combine whey, milk, yogurt and lemon juice in a large pot over medium heat. If you are not using whey, combine 1 gallon milk, yogurt, and lemon juice.
- Heat on medium to low heat, watching carefully, until milk just starts to simmer. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Do not let it boil or it could boil over, making a giant mess.
- Meanwhile, place cheese cloth (or clean cotton t-shirt) over a bowl.
- Curds should have developed. Pour mixture through the cheese cloth and squeeze cloth to remove excess whey.
- Add salt to curds.
- Pour whey back into pot and heat again just until it starts to boil. Remove and wait. You should get more curds from the leftover whey. Add it to your mixture and strain.
Linked to some of these great blogs.