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Make Fresh Whole Milk Ricotta at Home

Make Fresh Whole Milk Ricotta at Home

When Mom and I visited my sister, Dana, back in November last year, she had a surprise for us.

We were all going to attend a cheese-making class!

The class was so informative and fun. We learned how to make ricotta and mozzarella, and even got to make fresh butter!

After this class, I was hooked. I knew my crew at home would enjoy it.

I bought the cheese-making kit that the instructor was selling, and excitedly told my husband all about the class, and how amazing everything tasted.

When I got home, the first two things I made were shake butter with the boys and this ricotta recipe. I followed her recipe to a T, and then as I started making it more, I adjusted it to my liking and to the ingredients I had access too.

Cheese-making is kind of like mixing candy-making and chemistry. You have to watch your temperatures, but you also have to understand a bit of chemistry. The biggest thing to remember is that you're changing the milk at the molecular level, so the temperature you heat the milk to and when you add the citric acid determines the type of cheese and whether its hard or soft. Drying, aging and salting also affect the cheese.

Ricotta is an instant cheese, which means you can be eating fresh ricotta in about an hour. Its also a pretty forgiving cheese. You can be a degree or so off when you pull it off the stove to rest. You'll still end up with ricotta. Mozzarella, for instance, is not so forgiving.

Whole Milk Ricotta

You will not need to sanitize your equipment before starting, just make sure everything is clean. 

Equipments for Fresh Whole Milk Ricotta at Home
      • Stainless Steel 6 qt. Stock Pot
      • Mesh Strainer or Colander
      • Rubber Scraper or Wooden Spoon
      • Skimmer Spoon
      • Large Bowl
      • Thermometer
      • Measuring Cup
      • Measuring Spoons - 1 tsp and 1/8 tsp (optional)
      • Flour Sack Towel
Ingredients for Fresh Whole Milk Ricotta at Home
      • Gallon of Whole Milk 
      • 1/2 C Heavy Cream (ultra-pasteurized is ok)
      • 1 tsp Citric Acid*
      • 2 tsp Salt, divided


  1. In the stock pot, combine the milk, cream, citric acid, 1 tsp salt. Stir after each addition. Do not add all the ingredients at once, and then stir.

    Don't stir vigorously. Using the skimmer gently push the liquid down and up inside the pot.

    beginning of ricotta
  2. On medium heat, slowly heat your milk mixture to 185*. Ricotta doesn't like to be messed with.

    After 10 minutes, and check the pot. Gently scrape the sides and bottom of pot with the rubber scraper or wooden spoon. This keeps the curd from scorching in the pot.

    After 10 minutes, here's what my milk looks like.starting to see some curd form.

    After another 7 minutes or so, gently scrape the pot.

    Cheese curd after the additional 7 minutes. (17 minutes total)
    more cheese curds

    Pull the cheese curd off the heat at 183-184 degrees. It will continue the to heat up for another degree or so after removed from the heat.

    cheese curd at temp
  3. Cover the pot and let the cheese curd rest for 15 minutes.

    OPTIONAL - For less creamy cheese, you can add additional citric acid after the cheese reaches temperature. I add an additional 1/8 tsp of citric acid here, but it's personal preference. Gently combine the citric acid and curd.

    cheese curd just before resting
  4. Place your flour sack towel inside your colander or use a mesh strainer over the drain bowl. Scoop the cheese from the pot, and fold in remaining 1 tsp of salt. Let the cheese drain for 20-60 minutes.  I let mine drain for about 25 minutes.
    draining the cheese curd

    the cheese is done

  5. Store cheese in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for 7-10 days.

    If you like your cheese creamier, you can also add more cream to it.

You can save the whey for a few days. Its just protein juice, basically. You can add it to smoothies for an added protein boost.

the whey

My favorite snack is topping the ricotta with some good quality balsamic vinegar and pepper and then chowing down with some pretzels or crackers. My current favorite balsamic vinegar is a fig-infused variety that my husband found while down in SC.

A 1/8 C cheese topped with a drizzle of balsamic and half a serving of pretzels is about 125 calories.

fresh ricotta with balsamic and peppper

I am going to be forever grateful to my sister and the instructor for the cheese-making class.

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