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How to Make Whey Ricotta: Step-by-Step Guide with Pictures

April 10, 2013

Over the last two years of exploring with cheese making, I have come to find the excitement of all the different cheeses you can make and that the “left-overs” of one cheese can actually make another cheese! Everything seems to build off of each other when you are making things with dairy products. The leftovers you get from butter makes buttermilk, the leftovers you get from making a hard cheese is whey, which can make ricotta. It’s whey cool ūüėČ

Now, the only way I know how to make whey ricotta is from the whey of a hard cheese, so if you have made or planning on making farmhouse cheddar from my last post (how to make farmhouse cheddar) then you are going to have plenty of whey left over to make this whey ricotta. You can possibly make it from whey that comes out of strained yogurt, but the recipe I follow says to use the freshest whey possible (within two hours of making cheese).

Without further adue- Whey Ricotta:

What you need:

  • 2 gallons of fresh whey (within two hours of making cheese)
  • Cheesecloth (optional)
  • Thermometer
  • Big two gallon (or bigger) stainless steel pot
  • Metal slotted spoon for stirring
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar (optional)
Take all that lovely left-over whey from straining your curds and put it in the same pot or a different one if you wish and place on the stove.
Take all that lovely left-over whey from straining your curds and put it in the same pot or a different one if you wish and place on the stove.
Turn the stove on high, because it'll need to reach 200 degrees, which can take a little while.
Turn the stove on high, because it’ll need to reach 200 degrees, which can take a little while.
You'll see the whey start to put off some steam, make sure to keep stirring it so it doesn't burn on the bottom.
You’ll see the whey start to put off some steam, make sure to keep stirring it so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Continue to stir while it heats up, once it reaches 200 degrees and has a nice white film on top remove from heat.
Continue to stir while it heats up, once the whey reaches 200 degrees and has a nice white film on top remove from heat. (The “quick method” of getting the curds to form is at this point adding 1/4c of vinegar, this will change the way the ricotta tastes, so I typically let it naturally¬†separate, ¬†however, sometimes it doesn’t separate very well, so I’ll add the vinegar)
If you run your spoon through it you'll see how the white flakes have started to meld together into little curds. Let it sit for a minimum of 5 minutes so the curds can collect.
If you run your spoon through it you’ll see how the white flakes have started to meld together into little curds. Let it sit for a minimum of 5 minutes so the curds can collect.
After some time they'll start to look like this all matted together. At this point you can pour through a cheese cloth and let it hang or scoop out and put into a bowl to cool.
After some time they’ll start to look like this all matted together. At this point you can pour through a cheese cloth and let it hang or scoop out and put into a bowl to cool. The ricotta resembles cottage cheese and can be used to replace cottage cheese in certain recipes.

For the first 2 years I would just throw the whey away to my chickens, pigs or dogs. Now we always make it into ricotta and use it in our daily dishes (cheese for Sean’s¬†omelets¬†in the mornings, ricotta cheesecake, replacement for cottage cheese, etc.) Ricotta is very¬†versatile¬†and fairly bland in taste, just have fun with it! Any comments below are appreciated on successes, failures, and recipes you use ricotta in.

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