A few weeks ago, I took a cheesemaking class at one of the local cooking shops. We had so much fun and the cheese was so wonderful I have been itching to get into the kitchen and make some more.  This week, I needed some fresh cheese and decided the time had come to make some of the delicious fresh ricotta cheese that we made in the class.

The whole process is simple and takes only about 30 minutes with hardly any hands on work so here we go.

Place 8 cups of whole milk in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium high heat.  Cook the milk, stirring almost constantly until the milk comes to a foaming boil. 

Heating the whole milk

 Turn off the heat and as the bubbles subside add 2 cups of buttermilk and salt (1/2 – 1 teaspoon if desired) and any other flavorings or herbs you wish to use.  Since the recipe I was going to use the cheese for called for lemon zest I added the zest of one lemon at this point.  Stir the mixture gently in one direction until the curds and whey begin to separate.  At this point the mixture will begin to look like thick buttermilk, the curds will be small and the whey will still be milky. 

Stirring to separate the curds and whey

Set the saucepan aside and let rest, undisturbed for about 5 minutes. 

The resting curds and whey

Once the mixture has rested for about 5 minutes, carefully pour the curds and whey into a cheesecloth lined strainer over a large bowl.  The whey will drain into the bowl and can be discarded or used for another purpose.  Allow the curds to drain for about 15 – 30 miutes depending on the consistency desired.  I let mine drain for about 15 minutes. 

Draining the curd

Use the cheese immediately or it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

8 cups of whole milk and two cups of buttermilk will yield about 10 – 12 ounces of fresh cheese.

The finished cheese