Homemade Ricotta Cheese

1 Posted by - June 21, 2013 - Food & Drink

Of all the things I love in life, cheese has got to be right near the top. I even love stinky cheese. Cheese, cheese, put some cheese on it and I’ll probably eat it. (Stahp. I didn’t mean that.)

Anyway, you may even know that I don’t mind ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese) because I ate copious amounts of it for the 3-day military diet. So what was I to do when I discovered that it can be made at home? Why, make it, of course.

Image from Framed Cooks

Image from Framed Cooks

Of course, this is only homemade in that I have combined stuff I bought from the store. I don’t have my own goat or anything, although I wouldn’t mind having one, I think. I love goats… Well, I’m not sure I’d love a goat enough to milk it. I love my dog, but, you know, I don’t grab her tits and she doesn’t try to kick me. It’s an agreement we have.

Anyway, I waited a while to do this one because I did not have cheesecloth. Luckily, Amazon came through for me.

cheesecloth from Amazon

For some reason, I had it in mind that a dish towel wouldn’t do the trick. Also, cheesecloths are surprisingly cool. I’m pretty sure we used these as burial shrouds in Easter passion plays when I was a good, church-going little fucker.


Instructions said to lay the cheesecloth in a fine mesh strainer. Yeah, well. I couldn’t find mine, so a colander it was.


Annnnd done.

shrouded colander

(Keep your eye on that colander. Looks like it might rise from the dead at any moment.)

To make ricotta cheese, you will require dairy products…

dairy products

You will also need a thing in which to boil your dairy products.

boiling dairy

The instructions said this would take about 10 minutes to heat to the appropriate temperature, appropriate temperature being when the milk starts to separate into gross-looking chunks and grosser-looking watery by-product. Mine took waaaay longer than 10 minutes.

dairy finally boiling

And then when I went to scoop out the chunky things with a slotted spoon, as instructed, this was all I got:

not much cheese

My hand is there for perspective, and also because I’m still showing off my gel nails. (This picture is from last week and I’ve taken it off since then, but it was still lookin pretty good a week and a half in, right?)

So I boiled that shit some more. If a little is good, a lottle is better, after all.

When I figured I’d boiled it to within an inch of its poor little life, I tried the slotted spoon method again, but didn’t have too much success. It was at this point that my mesh strainer miraculously reappeared and I got the bright idea to just dump the whole pot of gross-looking stuff in the mesh strainer and then transfer the chunky bits to the cheesecloth.

It worked.

ricotta cheese

So, really, at this point, the cheesecloth was just a cute place to set the cheese. The mesh strainer accomplished everything I thought the cheesecloth would do.

Still, I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a photo-op of a cheesecloth hanging off my faucet. I call this one “Suck It, Pioneer Woman” or “I’m Homesteading, Motherfucker.”

cheese faucet

Let’s pause here while we pretend to wait for the cheese to drain, because I started trying to do math in my head. This whole process yielded maybe a cup of ricotta cheese after I put in 4 cups of whole milk, 1 cup of buttermilk, and 1/3 cup of heavy cream.

A half gallon of whole milk costs $2.79 at my grocery store. I used 4 cups, so that’s about $1.40.

A 32 oz carton of buttermilk costs $1.79 and I used 1/4 of the carton, so that’s about $0.45.

Then I used 1/3 of a cup of heavy cream from an 8 oz carton at $1.85, so that’s $0.62.

So I’ve already spent $2.47 for this homemade cheese and that’s not taking into account that the remaining dairy product in those cartons will probably spoil in my fridge because I don’t use whole milk, buttermilk, or heavy cream for anything.

A 16 ounce ricotta cheese carton at the store costs $2.69.

I leave it to you as to whether you think the price is right. I, for one, am skeptical. Because this is how much you end up with:

how much ricotta

As far as the taste, I have to admit, it was much better than grocery store ricotta, if only because I got to drain off all that ookie water stuff and just have the curdy part. Yerrrrm. So, yeah, maybe if it really only took me 15 minutes, and I ate a lot of ricotta cheese, this would be worth it.

As it stands, though, I pretty much don’t give enough craps to keep on doing this and there is a non-existent amount of money saved if you don’t happen to have your own heavy cream producing goat wandering around, and you have mutually agreed that it’s ok if you grab her tits.

ricotta cheese


  • FluffyGirl June 21, 2013 - 4:33 pm Reply

    Look at you, going all homemaker-y and shit. I call this a win, cause’ A) you own a collander, B) you own a mesh strainer & C) you now own cheesecloth. Who else but a Pioneer Woman has that shit? Plus, you got more cheese, glorious cheese!

  • Hollie Swofford June 21, 2013 - 4:40 pm Reply

    When I saw the link on your Facebook page, I’ll be honest that I thought this one had fuck-up written all over it. Pleasantly surprised that it turned out edible 😀

  • Tina Wegner June 21, 2013 - 4:50 pm Reply

    Oh just so you use the stuff up……Buttermilk-pancakes and Whole milk and cream for coffee or tea. Makes pudding even creamier.

  • libraryofbird June 21, 2013 - 4:56 pm Reply

    I wish I had a goat. Not for milk but to eat the weeds in my back yard. Maybe some of those adorable Pygmy goats.
    Too much work and cost for cheese.

    • Catherine June 24, 2013 - 11:03 am Reply

      I want pygmy goats and miniature donkeys!

  • Sarah June 21, 2013 - 5:00 pm Reply

    I wonder if it would work w soy milk??

    • Big T June 21, 2013 - 11:04 pm Reply

      It works because of the special fats and stuff that are in real milk. Soy milk doesn’t have the same sorts of fats, so I really doubt it would work.

      • Havana James June 21, 2013 - 11:51 pm Reply

        Perhaps tofu from soy?

  • vdaq June 21, 2013 - 5:04 pm Reply

    Next time – make it in the microwave! It’s much quicker and it comes out pretty consistently good. You’re still not saving money, but you can make a little bit at a time if you want.

    Recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/02/how-to-make-fresh-ricotta-fast-easy-homemade-cheese-the-food-lab-recipe.html

  • mcooksey7 June 21, 2013 - 5:42 pm Reply

    You need to use whole milk. All sorts of chemical crap goes into taking the fat outta milk. So, use up the milk and the heavy cream. Use the cream in your coffee and forget the whole calorie thing. Healthy is better. The buttermilk? yeah, well, you’re on your own with that. Make Irish Soda Bread. Ha Ha Ha.

  • mcooksey7 June 21, 2013 - 5:44 pm Reply

    Oh, I forgot to tell you, you rock for making your own ricotta. Next time, try mozzarella!

  • Breenah June 21, 2013 - 5:52 pm Reply

    Don’t know what to do with buttermilk? PANCAKES. Always the answer. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/buttermilk-pancakes-ii/

    • kittentoes June 22, 2013 - 9:15 pm Reply

      Except when the answer is biscuits.

      • Catherine June 24, 2013 - 11:02 am Reply

        Biscuits should always be the answer IMO.

  • Emmnemms June 21, 2013 - 6:04 pm Reply

    You can do this with regular milk, preferably whole. Essentially all you are doing is curdling the milk, which makes the milk fats coagulate (I love that word) so you can use lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid. Out of a gallon of milk, I got 4 cups of ricotta. So for ~$3 (that is how much a gallon of milk is, right? I don’t buy milk… or groceries) you can get enough ricotta for a while. It’s AMAZING on pizza. And you don’t have to wait for it to drain, if it is in a towel/cheesecloth you can squeeze the water(whey) out. The leftover whey is very good for dogs coats if they will eat it.

  • Aara Sallinger June 21, 2013 - 6:07 pm Reply

    This looks great, and I really want to try it. (If for not reason other than getting to say, “I made my own cheese!”)

    I think it would probably have worked better, or at least not taken so long, if the ingredients had a higher fat content. The picture you posted shows low-fat buttermilk and 2% milk. (Whole milk is actually 3.25%.) Why do I think this? Just look at a carton of whole milk or cream that has gone bad. It’ll be full of solid chunks that separate out with no heat needed. Skim milk, on the other hand, will just turn sour. Maybe the fat is the key to making this work in under 15 minutes.

  • Stefanie L. June 21, 2013 - 6:55 pm Reply

    Make more ricotta with your extra dairy and then freeze whatever you don’t eat right away. The thawed ricotta cheese will have a strange texture, but it’s great mixed into jarred spaghetti sauce.

  • Jenn B June 21, 2013 - 7:20 pm Reply

    I made my own Gouda once, a lot of the same ingredients but more intensive. It wasn’t worth it. Four gallons of milk yielded one small wheel of cheese. I think it wound up costing me $30 in dairy ingredients for okay cheese.

    I highly recommend using your leftover cream for homemade Alfredo sauce. Cook some bacon and crumble, add your cream to the bacon and fat, add some Parmesan. Stir until thickened. (If it doesn’t thicken enough add a bit of corn starch). Add to pasta. Die in heaven. Definitely keep it for your cheat day.

  • Lashawn June 21, 2013 - 7:38 pm Reply

    You can use up the rest of the cream by testing this pin: How to make butter!


  • Rachel E June 21, 2013 - 7:52 pm Reply

    I made my own mozzarella from a pin, and since I already had rennet and citric acid on hand (…I’m a bit weird, I know), I just have to buy a gallon of milk when I want cheese. A gallon of whole milk makes a little over a pound of cheese, and I feel like a goddamn badass every time.

  • Kasie Strickland June 21, 2013 - 10:19 pm Reply

    “Suck it Pioneer Woman.” (Cannot stop laughing at this)

  • Pintroller June 21, 2013 - 10:25 pm Reply

    My boyfriend and I made our own farmer’s cheese (which is like making ricotta except you use vinegar to make tougher curds and you squeeze the shit out of the bundle, THEN let it sit for between 1 and 14 hours). It was fun. I wouldn’t say it saved money, but the end product was tasty and it does mean we could make our own variations of cheese. Worth doing again if I have a Saturday to kill, and how often does that happen (hint: never).

  • baby bug June 21, 2013 - 10:47 pm Reply

    just whole milk, a lemon, salt and cheese cloth, super easy on smitten kitchen’s blog! make it all of the time CHEESE ADDICTS UNITE !

  • Alyssa B June 21, 2013 - 11:04 pm Reply

    I recently made ricotta. It was so good! I grew up on the carton stuff so I didn’t know it was supposed to have a flavor.
    I wrote about it on my blog. http://everythinghappens-blog.blogspot.com/2013/05/easy-homemade-ricotta-cheese.html
    I just used whole milk, and paper towels instead of cheesecloth. So easy!

  • Lora June 21, 2013 - 11:32 pm Reply

    Homesteading I love it. I adore cheese but have no desire to make it or pretend to be a little wife on the prairie. We have grocery stores now. I’ll leave the cheesemongering to the experts.

  • Miss Ginger Grant June 22, 2013 - 1:21 am Reply

    I love your perspective on this one!!

  • Ashley S June 22, 2013 - 2:43 am Reply

    I’m glad you covered the cost. I see a lot of pins and after looking into it some more I realize that it’s sooo not worth it! LOL. Just cuz they say it’s “easy to make with stuff you already have at home” doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Really, who the hell has crap like beeswax, unrefined maple syrup and a bunch of other random crap that can only be bought at a big time specialty-whole-foods-holistic-health-food store or online?
    Anywho, that’s my rant. LOL. Woohoo for making your own cheese!!! Hahaha

  • Arina Levinschi June 22, 2013 - 5:59 am Reply

    I see a lot of people confuse ricotta with white cheese. “Ricotta” means “double-boiled”, and it’s made by curdling leftover proteins in milk whey. The stuff you made is just white cheese.
    Anyway, this went waaay better than when I tried to do it. I live in Eastern Europe, and white cheese is a staple product. Fresh milk is left uncovered for a few days, during which it goes sour and sour cream forms on top of the jar. The sour cream is saved for other uses, and the sour milk is boiled until it curdles, then poured into cheesecloth and left to hang overnight. So one time I was in the USA, I tried to replicate this to make some cheese for my pies. First thing I found out – cheesecloth is very hard to find and ridiculously expensive. Second – your milk is really weird. At home, boiled pasteurized milk goes sour after a couple of days in the fridge. American milk never goes sour. I mixed it with sour cream to speed the process, and after 2 weeks in the sun, it was still not sour! I boiled it anyway and it curdled after a long time and tasted like cheese that was boiled in milk (probably a lot like your “ricotta”).
    Bottom line – you should try next time with fresh milk that was not processed in any way, if you have access to a farm. Heavy cream is not necessary, it’s just there to make cheese fatter and smoother. You can omit the buttermilk as well if you don’t have other uses for it, just replace it with another acid like vinegar (but use just a teaspoon). You can also use big gauze instead of the cheesecloth (if you can find the one that is not cut into bandage strips), fold several times and use with the colander. A strainer is really unnecessary, as is the slotted spoon; just carefully dump the whole pot into the cheesecloth and strain away! Good luck~

    • Craig Thom June 22, 2013 - 7:25 am Reply

      Raw milk is illegal in most places, but I’ve had good luck with unhomogenized (but still pasteurized) milk.

      My goal is to make fresh mozzarella for pizza. Fresh mozzarella is very difficult to find around here. There’s stuff in grocery stores that is called fresh mozzarella, but it’s not the same. If the place I am buying it didn’t make it, then it isn’t what I want.

      So after making the mozzarella I sometimes make ricotta with the whey that’s left.

      • Arina Levinschi June 22, 2013 - 3:28 pm Reply

        I did not know the raw milk thing! But pasteurized milk should still go sour, or so I thought. Good job making mozzarella! Will you share a recipe?

      • Amanda June 22, 2013 - 10:52 pm Reply

        You can buy raw milk in Michigan. You have to know the right people though as its not sold out and about. One of our friends buys a few gallons a week.

      • Emmnemms June 23, 2013 - 4:35 am Reply

        If it’s not illegal, they sure make it a pain in the ass to get. I live in Oregon which is pretty good at farm to table type food. But it’s illegal for ANY 3rd party to sell raw milk, it’s illegal to advertise that you sell raw milk, and it’s illegal to have a milking herd of more than 2 cows and 7 (or maybe 9?) goats if you sell the milk raw… These ridiculous rules end up making a gallon of milk around $10 which is more than I can afford.

        • Craig Thom June 23, 2013 - 8:40 am Reply

          You (and others) seem to have missed the part where I wrote “most places”.

          • Catherine June 24, 2013 - 10:59 am

            She was just adding additional information on to your comment. There wasn’t any reason to respond with snark.

    • Ursha June 22, 2013 - 4:24 pm Reply

      I wanted to say the same thing. I’m from Europe too and we do the same thing like you. We have tons of home made cheese in our freezer and we make home made strudel with it. I agree with you about the US milk… Even from watching haul videos I can see that it’s no good.

    • Catherine June 24, 2013 - 11:00 am Reply

      Your description of how to make cheese is the main reason I don’t eat cheese. I just can’t get past the “soured milk” stuff.

  • kittnen June 22, 2013 - 8:26 am Reply

    Omg, laughed so hard at squeezing goat’s tits.

  • Kristine + Murphy June 22, 2013 - 9:10 am Reply

    You’re better off buying it instead of getting your own goat. Our neighbor got goats. If you want them to keep producing milk, you have to breed them. So he went from 2 to 7. And then had to wait til the babies weren’t nursing anymore to get back to the milking. He tried goat cheese, goat milk soap… Goats are expensive, I stick to buying cheese.

  • HeidiK June 22, 2013 - 12:14 pm Reply

    I have a recipe for ricotta that’s just whole milk, lemon juice, and salt. The recipe takes it at a half-gallon, so I make a double recipe because I won’t use the whole milk otherwise. It’s delicious, but you’re right, if you’re used to frigo from the grocery store, it won’t matter. If you’re buying the ricotta from the Italian deli at $3/pound though, you’re in business.

    • Daintynymph June 22, 2013 - 12:54 pm Reply

      I do the same thing with vinegar and no salt. I use the cheesecloth that you can get at a hardware store. it’s got a really wide weave, but if you layer several pieces it’ll catch all the cheese. You have to cook it until it’s almost boiling and then add the acid, and I find that I often use more than the recipe calls for. I put the collander in a bowl so I can save the whey and then use the whey to make rice so there’s no waste.

  • Laurinda June 22, 2013 - 2:41 pm Reply

    I had wondered about that pin, thank you for tackling it! Btw, is that a hand knit dishcloth that I spy in the last picture?

    • Pintester June 24, 2013 - 11:40 am Reply

      It is, but made by my mom, not me. 😉

  • Ptownsteveschick June 23, 2013 - 12:08 pm Reply

    I tried this, but my technique was to forget about whole milk in the baby’s sippy cup and then lose the cup under all her damn blankets and night night toys for a few days. Nailed it.

    • emily June 24, 2013 - 11:22 pm Reply

      love it!

  • Kaz June 23, 2013 - 3:14 pm Reply

    Make irish soda bread from the leftover buttermilk – no yeast, no kneading, no boring waiting around for dough to rise… just mix & bake for yummy fresh bread to have the cheese with. Sorted.

  • Catherine June 24, 2013 - 11:05 am Reply

    To be honest, when I saw the picture from the homepage I thought, “Why does she have her panties hung on the faucet?” Then I thought, “Ooh! Maybe she’s gonna show us how to get blood out of our panties when that bitch mother nature sneaks up on us knowing we need to run to the store for tampons.”

    • Allie June 26, 2013 - 12:13 pm Reply

      Hydrogen peroxide works wonders 🙂

  • Cortney June 24, 2013 - 11:08 am Reply

    What did you do with it?

    • Pintester June 24, 2013 - 11:38 am Reply

      I ate it with a spoon. In two sittings.

  • Lolly June 24, 2013 - 11:45 pm Reply

    I refreshed 4 times before I realized that “This Is The Most Recent Story” was not the title of the next post, but actually a simple statement of fact. It is entirely possible that I am drunk.

  • Emilee July 4, 2013 - 11:49 pm Reply

    I DO have a goat, although we’ve yet to move our relationship to the tits-grabbing level. Mostly the three of them are just fucking adorable and I claim that they’re ‘weeding the garden’ while I drink wine. Anyways, I’ve made ricotta from scratch before and I always got wildly different amounts of cheese each time I did it. Some times there was a lot and sometimes there was nothing. Pretty much the same results as you.

  • Pardon the Cheesiness | Dirt & Frosting July 11, 2013 - 11:05 am Reply

    […] I chose to make my own ricotta. It looked pretty easy. I love cheese.  Jay loves when I make store-bought stuff from scratch. […]

  • Evin Cooper July 24, 2013 - 1:06 am Reply

    I have toddlers and buy gallons and gallons of milk. Sometimes my rotation fucks up and a gallon that needs to get drunk THIS WEEK gets shoved to the back of the fridge and I don’t see it till next week. I dump that whole bitch in a pot, heat it up, add vinegar, and make cheese! I even save the whey (the nasty shit you drain off) to make bread with. I, too, am a homesteading motherfucker!

  • Tulip August 3, 2013 - 1:12 pm Reply

    I make this cottage cheese ALL the time. Its easy, its relatively inexpensive and definitely worth it. Sometimes the first time is the most difficult and once you do it 2-3 times over, its easy , fun and much more delectable than those preservative infested store brands. 🙂

  • illdothedisheslater October 18, 2013 - 1:26 pm Reply

    I made cheese too! Totally hardcore Ma Ingalls move. But not cost effective. Still. Ride or die, cheesewise. http://illdothedisheslater.tumblr.com/post/59319228795/raw-milk-chevre-baaaah

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