Step 1: Get a goat. Tie her up, tie her down, tie her sideways, then milk her.
Or save yourself, I implore you, and just go to the store and buy a gallon of the freshest whole milk you can find.
Ricotta is the easiest of all soft cheeses. It’s a simple process with very few steps (especially if you skip Step 1 above), and you can have fresh ricotta anytime!
A good way to get started if you are a first-time cheesemaker is with a cheesemaking kit. I got this one from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.
The 30 Minute Mozzarella & Ricotta kit is $24.95. It comes with enough citric acid, cheese salt, and rennet for 30 batches of cheese, plus instructions for ricotta and mozzarella, butter muslin, and a dairy thermometer. You’ll also need a large stainless steel pot, a stainless steel colander, stainless steel slotted spoon, and measuring spoons onhand.
If you don’t have access to fresh milk, please don’t let that stop you! Making cheese is fun, and slightly addictive. Once you learn how, it’s a creative process, like breadmaking, in which you can add your own flavorings and make specialty cheeses your way. While I feel fortunate to have fresh raw milk available to me, now that I’ve delved into cheesemaking, I see that there is far more to it than the milk. For one thing, it’s freshly-made even if you use milk from the store, not to mention all the creative opportunities for adding in your own herbs and other seasonings. Cheesemaking is a mecca of artistic exploration–and it’s easier than you think, particularly when you’re talking the soft cheeses!
I’m not sure why this kit is called “30 minute” mozzarella & ricotta because it really takes 60 minutes–30 minutes to prepare the milk and another 30 minutes to drain the cheese. (Still, it’s a relatively quick process, and you’re only actually doing something for the first 30 minutes.)
How to make Fresh Ricotta Cheese:
1 gallon fresh whole milk
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon cheese salt
Pour milk into a large stainless steel pot. Add the citric acid and cheese salt. Heat on medium-high until the milk reaches 195 degrees.
It will seem as if it takes a long time to achieve the proper temperature, but you’ll get there in under 30 minutes. (You can’t just stick your heat on high because you’ll scorch the milk–I set my burner right between medium and high). Stir infrequently, just enough to avoid scalding the milk on the bottom of the pan. (I just move the spoon around the bottom of the pot gently every few minutes.)
You’ll notice curds beginning to form on the surface of the pot.
Keep checking the temperature using the dairy thermometer.
By the time it reaches 195 degrees, the milk will have separated into curds and whey.
Isn’t that awesome? You’ll feel as if you’ve performed a magic trick the first time you do it.
Turn off the heat and let the pot sit for about 10 minutes. Cross your fingers the cat doesn’t wake up and eat it when you’re not looking.
After 10 minutes, line your colander with the butter muslin.
Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the curds to the muslin-lined colander.
Look at that! Is that cool or what?
Once all the curds are transferred to the colander……
….tie the muslin together.
Then tie it onto your sink faucet.
Let drain for another 30 minutes, or to desired consistency. (There are numerous uses for all that leftover whey, but that’s a whole ‘nother post!)
When the cheese is finished draining, untie the muslin and transfer the ricotta to a container. In this case, I used two pint-size glass jars. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks, and use as you would with any ricotta–only this is better because you made it. I see Pepperoni Lasagna!
See this recipe on Farm Bell Recipes for the handy print page and save it to your recipe box.
Wow! I can’t believe how easy that actually looks! I may have to try it with bought milk. Will have to look online for a cheese making kit. Mmmm…lasagna with fresh cheese…yummy! :hungry:
On October 11, 2008 at 4:36 am
I learned something early this morning-how to make cheese! It sounds easy. I had to look up what rennet and butter muslin was. Maybe I’ll try it some day. Is the mozzarella a lot harder to make? My family loves mozzarella.
On October 11, 2008 at 6:21 am
This is what kept going trough my head….Little Miss Muffet Sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey….
Did you taste any? What did they taste like? Now I am off to the cheses making site! Your cheese was inspiring!
On October 11, 2008 at 6:46 am
Chris Griffith says:
That photo of the goat is adorable. Have you made fresh mozzarella yet? Is there a post about it, if you have. It’s my fave and be something I would consider making.
On October 11, 2008 at 6:53 am
Mental P Mama says:
I just went to a wine and cheese class in Litchfield County (Connecticut) last weekend where we did this with that kit! You will never buy Ricotta again. I promise. :shimmy:
On October 11, 2008 at 7:09 am
Shari C says:
Wow! You make it look so easy, especially with the great photos. I bet it will taste so great because you made it yourself instead of coming from a store…homemade always seems to be so much better…right.
On October 11, 2008 at 7:52 am
Well aren’t you just something! Great job…you make it look so easy. I’m smelling lasagna already.
On October 11, 2008 at 7:53 am
Really? That’s all there is to it? Looks wonderful, probably tastes even better!
On October 11, 2008 at 7:56 am
Did I miss something because that seems so easy? Minus the goat milking of course. That was pretty amazing.
On October 11, 2008 at 8:46 am
Suzanne McMinn says:
Ricotta really is that easy! (Surprisingly, cottage cheese, which seems to me so similar to ricotta, is an entirely different process, with more steps.) Mozzarella is relatively simple, too, though it has a few more steps. I’ve tried it once–it was my first cheesemaking experiment–and I wasn’t very happy with how it came out, but now that I’ve experimented some more, I’m going to try it again and I’ll post when I do!
The party pics are here and if you scroll down you can find the pic of the ricotta broiled on fat slices of Grandmother Bread with some garlic and herbs–yum!
On October 11, 2008 at 8:53 am
That’s it? I would have thought it would be more complicated than that. Thank you for another great post, Suzanne. I’m tempted to try this is weekend, but it’s Thanksgiving weekend up here in Canada, so I have more pressing things to do in the kitchen this weekend. 😉
On October 11, 2008 at 8:58 am
Fresh Cheese! I’m so jealous! I might have to try that! (minus the goat, for now.)
On October 11, 2008 at 10:13 am
THAT is just the neatest thing…VERY interesting!!!!! It looks fun! I want to try that sometime! I LOVE Ricotta!
I could see Tiramisu, Cannoli, Lasagna, stuffed Manicotti shells and sauce, cheesecake (?)…the sky is the limit! Even cool dips, made out of Ricotta, for vegies or crackers!
On October 11, 2008 at 10:51 am
P.S. – I do prefer Ricotta in Lasagna than cottage cheese.
Isn’t that the CUTEST little Clover face looking up at you?
On October 11, 2008 at 10:52 am
Wait. That’s it? I thought that making cheese would take days not an hour. Maybe now I’ll try doing it. Thanks.
On October 11, 2008 at 11:07 am
Now that I think about it….it only made two little PINT size jam jars full? Out of a gallon of milk? I was just curious about that, because when I make yogurt out of a quart of milk, it makes alot more.
Just making sure I am thinking about the right amt. it makes. It just seems like a quart should make alot more than two little jars!!
On October 11, 2008 at 11:24 am
I love your blog. read it first thing every day. I have a question. I remember my grandmother making what she called cottage cheese out of cow milk and it was better than any cheese you could buy at the store. I know she would let her milk sour (probably in place of your acid) she would put it into a cheese cloth and pour boiling water over it. hang it up to drain. She chilled and served with salt & pepper after stirring some whole cream into it. Now was this cottage cheese or ricotta? I think of her every time I purchase cottage cheese at the store because hers was soooooo much better. Thank you Suzanne
On October 11, 2008 at 11:25 am
amy scott says:
I just looked up cheese recipes last night, and I gave up because it looked too complicated. I have extra fresh raw milk and I need to do something with it. I think I’ll try it now, since I can handle the above process.
On October 11, 2008 at 11:58 am
Kim W says:
How COOL is THAT?! I love riccotta cheese…it’s my favorite ingredient in my stuffed shells. YUM!
Blessings from Ohio…
On October 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm
wow, I always just eat the cheese. I never really thought about how to make it. Thanks for provoking thoughts and sharing cheese making.
On October 11, 2008 at 1:12 pm
Wow, first eggs and now cheese! What’s next lol. I wonder how the pioneers made cheese without the citric acid – something acidic I guess.
On October 11, 2008 at 2:31 pm
You make it look so easy!
On October 11, 2008 at 3:28 pm
YAY for cheese!
LOL on step one. Think I’m gonna skip that one.
On October 11, 2008 at 3:57 pm
OK! I have ordered the Beginner’s Kit and I’m just sitting here waiting for it to arrive…… I also ordered several Storey’s Country Pamphlets (see, I’ve already forgotten the name of the things!) and I’m ready to get prepared for this Depression that we are facing. Ready, Set….
On October 11, 2008 at 4:14 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
Ricotta really IS that easy. It’s a great cheese to start with because it will give you a boost of confidence to go on and try other cheeses that have more steps and other processes.
Cottage cheese is different–it’s made with a mesophilic starter. I haven’t tried it yet, but I intend to! It’s also a soft cheese. Any of the soft cheeses are good for beginner cheesemakers, but definitely start with ricotta as it is the easiest. You just about CAN’T mess up ricotta.
On October 11, 2008 at 5:15 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
oh, and Donna, yes, a gallon of milk makes two pints of ricotta! You’ll find that with any cheese. Milk is largely water, and making cheese involves separating that out.
On October 11, 2008 at 5:26 pm
You are making cheese!! :shimmy:
On October 11, 2008 at 6:08 pm
Andrea Maddiex says:
Thought it time I stopped lurking and commented. I want to say how very much I love your blog. I am not on the computer much but I try to stop in every day to see your latest post. You have the best recipes and I have never laughed so hard. I have not had a chance to read any of your books as yet but you must be a terrific author! Thank You!!!
On October 11, 2008 at 6:17 pm
CONGRATULATIONS!!! It looks soooo good.
The next thing we know, you’ll have a fully stocked cheese cave. :rotfl:
On October 11, 2008 at 6:52 pm
Thank you Suzanne for that reply above…that is sooo interesting! I want to make that sometime!! Anything fresh is always better!
On October 11, 2008 at 7:27 pm
Wow, I’m with Mental Mama’s comment…I may never buy ricotta again! This doesn’t look hard at all! What fun! (well, I’m going to skip step one of course.)
On October 11, 2008 at 7:27 pm
Claudia W. says:
I don’t have access to anything but store bought milk. If I can get someone to bring me some from one of those huge bulk stores I can see myself making ricotta cheese. I would much rather do that than to buy the ricotta in the store! Thanks for the recipe and steps.
On October 11, 2008 at 10:35 pm
I make cottage cheese using buttermilk – no need for another starter.
I’ve made it with homemade cultured buttermilk from leftover store-bought buttermilk.
You can also use a similar process to make feta cheese. It’s just as easy. The “rennet” is nothing more than Junket found in the aisle with the Jello and pudding mixes – usually on a top shelf.
On March 7, 2009 at 7:54 am
My son (toddler) is on a low-sodium diet due to medical reasons, and basically that’s meaning he can only have ricotta and fresh mozzarella…we’re in the middle of nowhere so the only choice we’ve had till now was the tiny plastic packs at our grocery. Thanks for posting such clear pictures so I can make some that actually tastes good instead of tasting like the plastic they pack it in!
On March 8, 2009 at 10:31 am
this is so cool! did it taste as good as the store bought meaning texture and all? We’re Italian and I think this would be a great gift for my dad.
On March 25, 2009 at 11:47 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
Yes, I think homemade ricotta is better than storebought. I love it. When I don’t have goat’s milk onhand, I still make it from regular milk! It’s so easy to make.
On March 26, 2009 at 5:08 am
Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:
I asked for a week at the Vermont Cheese making school, but will be happy to get the cheese making kit. If Santa doesn’t bring it, I may have to purchase it myself.
My brother manages a spice company. Wonder if they have citric acid and cheese salt? I might be a cheese maker sooner than I think!
Thanks for sharing!
Susan at Charm of the Carolines
On December 20, 2009 at 10:55 pm
Suzanne, I’m inspired. May end up with a mess. Purchased some citric acid at my brother’s spice company, but that is it. What is cheese salt anyway? Salt?
Wish me luck!
Susan at Charm of the Carolines
On December 21, 2009 at 1:38 pm
This looks amazingly simple! Just for clarification, tho….this can be make with cow’s milk? I don’t have a goat. Well, I don’t have a cow either but a gallon of cow’s milk from the grocery store would be easier than running down a goat and milking her.
Suzanne…you are such an inspiration to everyone!! Look at all the posts here on making cheese…at least half of the people are going to try this now and I’m going to be one of them. Not a big fan of the texture of ricotta but hey….I can tolerate it just to say I MADE IT!
On January 12, 2010 at 7:46 am
Suzanne McMinn says:
Carol, yes, you can use regular cow’s milk from the store (or farm-fresh)!
Try some ricotta just to get the hang of it–use it to make lasagna!
On January 12, 2010 at 7:59 am
Made my first batch of Ricotta cheese today. It’s lovely! And tasty! And easy to make. We are having stuffed shells this week with homemade tomato sauce. Can’t wait to try mozarrela.
On March 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm
Diana H says:
I didnt have citric acid on hand but saw in some other recipes that you could use vinegar or lemon juice. Is there a difference in the end product compared to the citric acid? I notice the lemon/vinegar recipes add it at the end after getting the milk hot. Also, my first batch I noticed the curd became large and fast. The second one I did took a while and it was smaller grainy curds. Do you know of a cause for this and which one is more desirable? One recipe even called for some cream but I didnt use it because I wanted to keep it simple (I just used whole milk from the store. Not sure what the reason for the cream was.
On April 6, 2010 at 2:04 am
Diana H says:
I tried toasting the ricotta I made using lemon juice but it didnt seem to melt like yours in the picture. Could there be a reason? I used cows milk. I didnt know ricotta could melt.
On April 6, 2010 at 2:12 am
This recipe looks similar to what Indian recipes call Paneer. Anyone here tried using this ricotta in place of paneer? It sounds delicious!
On May 16, 2010 at 4:23 pm
Ok I hoe you have a spare bedroom because I’m moving in LOL :hungry:
On September 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm
Whoops (that was supposed to be hope LOL)
On September 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm
“There are numerous uses for all that leftover whey, but that’s a whole ‘nother post!”
Did you ever do a post on what to do with the whey?
On May 3, 2013 at 1:19 am