In this post, we will learn how to make ricotta from whey. After making cheese, we are left with a good amount of whey, making ricotta from it is simple and quick. This homemade ricotta from whey is delicious and very simple to make!
There are many things you can do with the whey that is left after you make cheese at home.
Honestly, I usually do one of two things… I either give it to the animals or I use it when making bread as a replacement for the water in the recipe.
Recently, I found out that before I use it for those things, I can make one more kind of cheese from it — Ricotta.
This recipe is good whether you are using store-bought milk or raw milk, goat milk or cow’s milk… I am using my raw goat’s milk to make most of my homemade cheeses and in this post, I’ll be using the whey from this milk to show you how to make ricotta from whey.
How to Make Ricotta From Whey…
It takes some serious effort to keep goats (I raise Lamancha goats) alive here in NC. I am not sure if everyone all over the country experiences this but here in NC goats die like flies.
We have very hot and very humid summers. The perfect ground for so many parasites. Not only are they abundant, they are also aggressive and very resistant to medications.
Anyway, this is a topic for another post, but what I am trying to say is that when I do get delicious goat milk from my goats, you can bet that I am going to do the best I can to use it to the fullest.
So I make goat milk soap, and I make feta cheese, and soft cheese, and hard goat cheese, and yogurt, and chevre, and sometimes I can my milk… And now, I have also added homemade ricotta from whey to my list.
I love that I can make it from whey, so it’s always an addition to whatever other cheese I make. And I love that it’s super simple and quick.
Again, in this step-by-step tutorial, I will be using my raw goat milk but you can do the same with whey from cow’s milk, raw or store-bought.
There are a couple of different ways to make ricotta, but you know me… I like the old traditional ways, so we are going to stick to the simple ways of the good ol’ past.
What is Ricotta Cheese…
Ricotta cheese is creamy white, mild, and soft texture cheese.
Traditionally, Italian cheese makers made ricotta from whey left behind after making Mozzarella or Provolone cheese.
Ricotta consists of delicate granules that are moist and is very rich in calcium.
You can use ricotta cheese in pasta, especially filled pasta like lasagna, ravioli, and tortellini.
You can season it and add to salads or sandwiches, and it is so good as a dessert with some honey, fruit, chocolate, or jam.
Tools That We Are Going to Need…
Before I show you how to make ricotta from whey, let’s gather all the tools that we are going to need.
This ricotta cheese is so simple. You probably already have everything that you need on hand. There is no need for fancy cheesemaking equipment or cultures or even rennet.
Here is what we need…
Stainless pot – it’s best if it’s a heavy bottom pot so the whey doesn’t scorch when we heat it.
A slotted spoon – or another stainless spoon for stirring the whey.
A cheese thermometer – or any other kind of thermometer that can read a to 200F.
1/4 cup measuring cup – to measure the vinegar.
A colander – or you can use a strainer or a bowl. We will line it with the cheesecloth before we hang the cloth. If you want to catch the liquid use a bowl. If you don’t want to catch the whey then you can use a strainer or a colander.
Cheesecloth – let me tell you a secret…
You don’t really need a fancy cheesecloth! Your local Walmart sells a pack of five or so flour sack tea towels for something around $5. I am linking to a “proper” cheesecloth in case you are not sure what a cheesecloth is.
The flour sack towels that I get at my local Walmart work better than a cheesecloth in my opinion and they are so cheap! It’s really all you need.
Also make sure to have a string of some sort (I use yarn) to tie and hang the cheesecloth with.
For a comprehensive list of cheesemaking equipment and ingredients, make sure to visit my cheesemaking equipment post.
Ok, we are ready to go through this ricotta from whey tutorial. You’ll find all the steps below, however, if you want to have a better understanding of the cheesemaking process, please visit my How to Make Cheese at Home post.
Heating the Whey…
After making my simple goat milk cheese, I was left with about a gallon of whey.
I didn’t remove the whey from the pot to measure how much I had exactly so I am just estimating that it’s about a gallon… It might have been a little less but that is fine, we don’t have to be super exact here.
I kept the whey in the fridge overnight since it was too late in the day to make another cheese the day before.
You can make ricotta right away after you are done with whatever cheese you’re making but I thought it would come handy to mention that it’s also ok to stick it in the fridge for a day if you need to.
The first step is to heat the whey to 195F.
Make sure to set the heat to medium and slowly bring it to 195F while stirring it frequently so it doesn’t scorch.
Adding Vinegar to The Hot Whey…
Once the whey reaches 195F, remove the pot from the heat and add 1/4 cup vinegar.
So whatever amount of whey you are processing, remember 1/4 cup of vinegar per one gallon of whey.
I used my homemade apple cider vinegar (it gave my ricotta a bit of a rosy color), but you can also use distilled white vinegar.
Stir the vinegar into the hot whey and you’ll see it starts to curdle. Let it do its thing for a couple of minutes…
Hanging the Curds…
Place a colander over the sink or over a bowl if you want to catch the liquid…
Line the colander with cheesecloth…
Then, pour the whey into the colander…
Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and tie them…
Then hang the cheesecloth on one of your kitchen cabinets with a bowl underneath it to catch the remaining whey.
Depending on the amount of whey you are processing, you might need to leave the bag hanging from one hour to five or six or seven hours.
Really it just depends on the amount of whey and the consistency that you want your cheese to be.
If you like it dry, leave it for longer, if you like it moist, take it down once you see that there is not much whey dripping out of it.
I left this for about an hour. Since it’s just a little bit of cheese it was enough.
Storing Ricotta Cheese…
Open your cheesecloth and use a spoon to scrape the soft ricotta into a bowl.
Then the last step is to salt your cheese. Again, the amount of salt depends on your taste, I used about half a teaspoon for this amount of cheese (a little less than a cup of cheese).
Make sure you use cheese salt or kosher salt. You want a non-iodized salt (iodized salt will make your cheese green-blue…).
Give it a good mix and you are done!
This can be used right away or you can store it in the fridge like any other cheese.
I didn’t try to freeze it yet but I am guessing it freezes very well since it’s similar in consistency to another cheese I make and freeze.
I have to admit that the reason I didn’t make ricotta cheese until now is that I don’t like ricotta cheese! Ha!
Well, I figured I’d make it anyway just so I know how to do it and so I can take full advantage of my raw milk and maybe I’ll use it to make lasagna, but I tasted it when it was done and this ricotta is so much tastier than the one from the store!
It’s creamy and salty and I like it a lot!
So I actually ended up eating it on a toast with fresh tomato. It was delicious!
Let me know what you think in the comments below, do you make ricotta at home? If you tried it, did you like the result?
- A gallon of whey
- 1/4 cup vinegar (apple cider or distilled white)
- 1/2 teaspoon cheese salt or kosher salt
- Heat the whey to 195F over medium heat. Stir constantly to prevent scorching.
- Remove from heat, add vinegar, stir and set aside for a few minutes.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth, add the whey...
- Collect the ends of the cloth, tie them, and hang to drain anywhere from one hour to a few hours depending on how much whey you are processing.
- Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth and salt to taste with cheese or kosher salt.
You can use whey from any kind of milk. Even store-bought milk.
You can also use any kind of vinegar.
Feel free to season your ricotta. You can make it saltier or add black pepper, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, or any other seasonings you can think of.
Stor your ricotta in a container the fridge.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: Tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 60
Hi! I’m Lady Lee. I help homesteaders simplify their homesteading journey while still producing a ton of food! I am a single mother of four, I was born in Israel and raised in an agricultural commune called a Kibbutz. Now I homestead in central NC.