Homemade Ricotta / momskitchenhandbook.comLittle Miss Muppet was onto a good thing. I didn’t know just how good until I sampled curds and whey for myself after eyeballing this post about homemade ricotta (the curds part of the equation). I made a batch. Then another. Followed by a double batch. And then I made smoothies with the leftover whey from all that cheese making. It seemed wrong to keep all this goodness to myself, so I taught the kids in my cooking class to make ricotta. And now here I am telling you.

If I’m not careful, I’ll be slapped with a lawsuit by Sorrento or Polly-O or Calabro for imploring the public at large to make, not buy, ricotta.

DIY Ricotta / momskitchenhandbook Since I’m risking my life savings here, let me tell you a few reasons why you might want to make ricotta.

1. Eating still-warm, just-made fresh cheese on toasted bread topped with olive oil and coarse salt is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It heals everything from heartache to hot flashes. Really.

2.. It’s crazy easy. Easier than figuring out which brand of ricotta to buy in the market.

3. It’s fun kitchen science. You and your kids can geek out over a pot of hot milk.

4. It just may convert a ricotta hater to a ricotta liker or a ricotta liker to a ricotta lover. This happened before my very eyes.Twice.

Don’t be scared. All that’s involved is boiling milk, adding lemon juice, waiting for curds and whey to separate, and straining.

You might be surprised that a whole quart of milk only makes about one cup of ricotta, which is why you need to hang onto the precious whey that’s left behind. It can sub in for water when making oatmeal, rice, and other grains. It also makes a tangy, low-calorie, low-fat vehicle for whirling up smoothies.

Blueberry, kale, whey smoothie / momskitchenhandbook.com

Blueberry, Kale, Whey Smoothie

photo (24)

Strawberry, Banana, Whey Smoothie (recipe below)


Ricotta is no gorgonzola or gruyere. It won’t knock you over with flavor, but its subtlety and softness do appeal to the senses. I use a small amount of salt when cooking, allowing the ricotta and whey to be suitable for both sweet and savory dishes. You can always top your finished ricotta with more salt to brighten the flavor just before serving. A drizzle of olive oil or honey, fresh chopped chives or thyme all pair beautifully with ricotta. Strawberries or slow-roasted cherry tomatoes never hurt, either.

1 quart whole milk (pasteurized milk is ok, don’t use UHT milk*)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Pinch salt

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan. Set over medium-high heat and heat until the milk is just shy of a boil, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if it starts to boil a little. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and salt. Stir gently a couple of times and watch the curds separate from the whey. Set aside for about 5 minutes.

Lay a piece of cheesecloth or a fine tea towel into a strainer set inside a large bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth and allow the liquid to drain for a few minutes. Lift the cheesecloth up by the edges, allowing any remaining liquid to strain out. I like a soft, moist curd so I refrain from squeezing the cloth too much. For dryer ricotta, squeeze away.

Transfer ricotta to a bowl and use immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator. Pour leftover whey into a pitcher and keep in the fridge.

Ricotta is best eaten within a day or two of being made, but will keep up to 1 week.

*UHT refers to Ultra High Temperature pasteurization, whereby milk is heated to a much higher temperature than traditional pasteurization. This process prevents the curds and whey from separating.

Inspired by the Edible Schoolyard and Yummy Supper.

Strawberry Banana Whey Smoothie / momskitchehandbook.com


If you don’t happen to have whey on hand, you can make this with your favorite nut, seed, soy, or cow’s milk.

3/4 cup whey
1 medium frozen banana, sliced
5 medium strawberries, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon honey
4 to 5 small ice cubes
2 teaspoons chia or hemp seeds (optional)

Put the whey, banana, strawberries, honey, and ice into a blender. Blend until creamy smooth. Top with seeds, if desired.

Makes 1 large or 2 petite smoothies




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  1. 03.01.2014 at 9:11 AM #

    3 cheers for homemade ricotta!! xoxo E

    • katiemorford
      03.01.2014 at 2:08 PM #

      Thanks for the inspiration, Erin!

  2. Spring
    03.01.2014 at 10:09 AM #

    Perfect rainy day activity! Yum! Can’t wait to try.

    • katiemorford
      03.01.2014 at 2:09 PM #

      Your girls will love it!

  3. Pam H
    03.01.2014 at 1:43 PM #

    What is UHT milk?
    -Pam H

    • katiemorford
      03.01.2014 at 2:08 PM #

      That refers to Ultra High Temperature pasteurization whereby the milk is heated much higher than normal pasteurization. It’s the milk you find in aseptic packages, common especially in Europe. UHT is also used for some refrigerated milks as well. My understanding is that the curds and whey won’t separate properly with UHT milk.

  4. Pam H (the other one)
    03.01.2014 at 7:57 PM #

    This looks like fun and delicious too. Will try it soon, but first, a series of related dumb questions. I assume the curds are the part that is left in the cheesecloth that we will squeeze to make the ricotta. What is the whey and is it in the liquid?


    Pam H

    • katiemorford
      03.02.2014 at 11:34 AM #

      No dumb questions. When acid (in this case, lemon juice) is added to warm milk, it causes the milk to separate into solids (the curd) and liquid (the whey). You pour all of it into your cheese cloth and the whey will drain into the bowl. The curds are your ricotta and the whey is the liquid to use for making smoothies or watering your plants. Hope that clarifies things.

  5. Courtney
    03.02.2014 at 12:18 AM #

    Can’t wait to try this! We lived in Italy for a few years….have not been able to buy ricotta (other than fresh) since then, Italy ruined us with it’s delicious, creamy ricotta. It’s so good there you can eat it with a spoon!

    • katiemorford
      03.02.2014 at 11:36 AM #

      Isn’t everything better in Italy? I imagine that cream might be added to the milk in some of that gorgeous ricotta in Italy…which you can do here for a richer cheese.

  6. 03.02.2014 at 9:55 AM #

    Homemade ricotta is THE BEST! I never thought about using the whey though…what a good idea!

    • katiemorford
      03.02.2014 at 11:37 AM #

      Yes, save that whey! It’s a little funky looking, but has an appealing tang.

  7. Laurie-Ann
    03.02.2014 at 11:26 PM #

    I’ve been making paneer cheese using the same ingredients and method except for leaving it to drain about an hour in the cheesecloth. I never realized that if would be ricotta if I used it without draining it. I can’t wait to try it! And, I can recommend hanging the cheesecloth to drain and cutting into cubes for any dish calling for paneer.

    • katiemorford
      03.03.2014 at 12:57 PM #

      Thanks Laurie Ann. I love paneer, so will try that too!

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