Got Whey? Make Ricotta!

Sometimes, when you make yogurt (and every time when you make cheese), you end up with some leftover whey.

Now, if you want to get less or no whey, look in the Yogurt Maker’s Handbook pdf, which you get with your order, for tips about how to do that.

But in case you have leftover whey and want to make something delicious out of it, then read on!

Ricotta (which means recooked in Italian) is made from leftover whey from making yogurt or cheese. You can use the whey alone (to make Ricotta) or combine it with milk (to make Ricottone).
The method comes down to cooking the whey to form curds, then draining them to make Ricotta. And since you will be cooking the milk, you can safely use raw milk when making Ricotta.

You need:

  • Whey – the fresher the better
  • Milk (adding milk is optional but it increases Ricotta yield)
  • Citric acid, vinegar, or rennet (1/2 tsp per gallon of liquid), dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • Salt (1/2 tsp per gallon of liquid)
  • The Ricotta yield you get from a gallon of whey (or whey-milk mixture) depends on the amount of milk solids in it. In general, a gallon of whey and low fat milk mixture will yield about 250 grams of Ricotta.

Instructions:

  1. Gently heat the whey (or the whey and milk mixture) to 85°C / 185°F.
    Do not stir, just heat at this step. You can also heat to just below boiling (95°C / 200°F) but you don’t need to — 85°C / 185°F is enough for pasteurization (if using raw milk) and for Ricotta to form.
  2. Add the salt at any point after 76°C / 170°F and gently stir it in.
  3. Turn heat off and add the citric acid solution (or vinegar, or rennet) and stir for 10-15 seconds.
  4. You should see the curds forming in small flakes initially and then gradually combining in larger chunks.
    You can add more citric acid if you prefer your Ricotta tarter. The right amount of acid produces a clear separation of white curds and light green whey so if your curds don’t separate, add some more of the acidic solution.
  5. As the curds form and rise, gently move them around with a ladle to help them consolidate. Do that for about a minute.
  6. Let the curds rest for 10-15 minutes — this helps them develop taste and consistency.
  7. Drain the Ricotta through a cheese cloth or any other filter. It should be pretty thick by now so basically any mesh filter or even colander should be ok. If you have shaping draining forms, use those.
  8. Let the curds drain for at least 20 minutes up to several hours.
    If you like a lighter tasting Ricotta, drain it for a short while (until whey draining slows to a drop per every 30 seconds). For a richer denser Ricotta let it drain longer.
  9. Move the Ricotta to the fridge for at least a couple of hours. This helps form the right consistency and improves taste.

Store Ricotta in the fridge. Eat it within 7-10 days although I’m sure it will be gone the minute you taste it 🙂

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