In my never-ending quest to make as much from scratch as possible, I’ve conquered many staples that in the past, I would never have thought possible.  Yeast breads and doughs have become second nature, I haven’t bought bottled salad dressing in a year or two, tortillas are so much better homemade, and I kicked my little yogurt container habit to the curb.  This year, I’m hoping to experiment with at least a couple of attempts at cheese making, and it only seemed natural to start out with what everyone says is the easiest cheese to make from scratch – ricotta.

Now that I’ve done it, I can say two things.  First, it really was easy.  I couldn’t believe how quick and simple the process was, and that it only required ingredients I already had on hand.  And second, this totally took ricotta to a whole new level for me.  I’ve never disliked ricotta, but I only used it in things – lasagna, other pastas, etc.  The usual suspects.   I never just enjoyed it on its own.  But this was so much richer and creamier than the stuff from the store.  Next week I’ll be sharing my new favorite use for it.  In the mean time, feel free to mix in some fresh herbs and garlic, spread on crostini and enjoy ASAP.   Preferably with wine.

  • Yield about 2 cups


2½ tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. distilled white vinegar, plus more as needed
2 quarts pasteurized whole milk
1 tsp. salt


  • 01

    Be sure your milk is fresh homogenized or pasteurized – not ultra-pasteurized or ultra-heat-treated (these will not curdle correctly.)

  • 02

    Combine the milk and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Continue to heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk registers 185˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.

  • 03

    While the milk is heating, prepare a colander and line with a double layer of cheesecloth.  (Cheesecloth can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.)

  • 04

    Once the milk has reached the desired 185˚ F, remove from the heat.

  • 05

    Stir in the lemon juice and vinegar.  The mixture will begin to curdle quickly.  Stir just enough to evenly distribute the acids.  Let rest 5-10 minutes.

  • 06

    When the mixture is adequately curdled, it will have separated into white curds and translucent yellow whey.  Gently stir at the edge to ensure that this has occurred.  If there is still milky whey in the in the pot after 10 minutes, add in more vinegar 1 tablespoon at a time and let sit 2-3 minutes more until the curds separate.

  • 07

    Very carefully pour the mixture into the prepared colander.  If you want to reserve the whey, be sure to place a bowl underneath the colander.  Let drain about 8-12 minutes (shorter for a moist result, longer for a drier end product.  Moist is best for an appetizer-type spread, drier is better for lasagna and the like.)  Transfer the curds to a bowl, stir, cover, and refrigerate until chilled.  Store up to 5 days.