Homemade Ricotta Cheese Using Whey Drained From Yogurt

Ricotta made with Yogurt Whey

Homemade ricotta makes a delicious spread on toast, topped with fresh fruit or jelly.

Listen up, yogurt makers!!!

Here is one more way to use the leftover whey drained from making Greek yogurt. (Not a yogurt maker? Substitute buttermilk for the whey.)

whey and strainer

Use the whey to make ricotta cheese.

It’s really simple. Grab a half gallon of whole or 2% milk along with a couple cups of whey you’ve saved from making Greek yogurt. Whisk together in a saucepan and heat on top of the stove without stirring.

Ricotta made with Yogurt Whey-4.jpg

Heat milk and whey mixture on top of the stove over medium heat.

As milk mixture heats, you will see the milk begin to curdle and separate into curds and whey. Remove from stove when temperature reaches 180 degrees F. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Ricotta made with Yogurt Whey-9.jpg

Separate the curds from the whey by straining.

Use a slotted spoon to remove curds to a fine-mesh strainer. Let ricotta drain to your preferred dryness. Season with a pinch of salt.

Ricotta made with Yogurt Whey-12.jpg

If you don’t have a good fine-mesh strainer, line a regular strainer with cheesecloth.

Easy. Right? Store in a glass bowl or jar in the refrigerator for 4-7 days. If you are a vacuum-packer (you know who you are), vacuum-pack the finished ricotta in a Mason jar and double the storage time to approximately 2 weeks.

vacuum packing ricotta

Cover flat canning lid with wide-mouth vacuum attachment and use a portable or full-size vacuum-packing machine to vacuum-pack your cheese for longer storage.

p.s. Some people suggest you can make ricotta cheese by boiling the whey by itself. I tried it and it’s not worth the trouble. It takes a VERY large amount of whey to make a VERY small amount of cheese because most of the protein has been removed from the whey in the yogurt-making process, unlike the whey one collects from making cheese. That’s my experience anyway.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese Using Whey Drained From Yogurt
 
Author:
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • ½ gallon whole or 2% milk
  • 2 cups whey drained from making Greek yogurt
Instructions
  1. Stir milk and yogurt together in a large saucepan.
  2. Heat on stove to 180 degrees. Milk will curdle.
  3. Remove from stove and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Gently retrieve curds from pan using a slotted spoon and place into a fine-mesh strainer or use whatever strainer you have, lined with two layers of cheesecloth.
  5. When curds have drained to your preferred dryness, store in a glass or plastic jar up to 4-7 days.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa September 20, 2013 at 10:43 am

Can’t wait to try this!! I knew there was a reason my job was cancelled today!! Thanks, Paula, for all you do!

Reply

threequeensmom September 20, 2013 at 11:04 am

lol…now I know why this recipe didn’t work for me before… I never saw that you had to mix the whey with MILK! :) Thank you!!

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Paula September 20, 2013 at 11:49 am

Hi Threequeensmom,
I’ve never seen it anywhere myself. I just knew that boiling the whey by itself did not produce enough ricotta to make it worth it. Not even close. People had told me it worked–but it didn’t for me. So since whey and buttermilk are often interchangeable and many people make ricotta with buttermilk and milk I decided to try substituting whey for the buttermilk and it worked. EUREKA! And besides being fresh, it costs about half what you would pay for ricotta in the store if you count the whey as free.

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Nancy September 21, 2013 at 9:20 am

Actually, I’ve made very nice ricotta from heating milk with a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice (an acidifier) and following same procedure.

The whey left over from the Greek-style yogurt-draining process is an acidifier causing the proteins to coagulate and separate. No reason not to use whey – especially if it’s already in your fridge – but you do end up with MORE whey – and it can take up a lot of space.

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Paula September 21, 2013 at 9:50 am

Yes, Nancy, You are absolutely right. I have made it with lemon juice myself. But for those of us who make lots of Greek yogurt, whey is easier to come by than lemons or buttermilk. I throw the whey from making ricotta away (or over my acid-loving plants.) My Greek yogurt easily generates half a gallon or more of whey every week so you can see how I am quickly overrun with the stuff if I were to keep it all.

Thanks for writing. Most people don’t make their own Greek yogurt so it’s nice to have anther alternative.

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Karen September 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I also end up with a lot of whey post-yogurt straining and was wondering if I could freeze it to make some ricotta when I need it.

Reply

Paula September 21, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Karen,
Yes, you may freeze whey. It will keep for at least a month just in the refrigerator.

Reply

Jack Monty September 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Hey Paula,
That’s a nice looking ricotta, has it tempted you to have a go at making other cheeses? It’s not as hard as most people think and very rewarding!
Cheers,
Jack

Reply

Dimity September 24, 2013 at 1:13 am

I make ricotta all the time, but with much less effort than this (great way to use up whey though!). Simply bring a pot of milk to just below boiling tmep, when hot enough, turn off heat and drizzle over the surface of the milk 50ml (per 1 litre of milk heated) of plain white vinegar. Leave for about 30 mins, and you find the curd seperates beautifully! Simply scoop out the ricotta from the milk with a slotted spoon. Ta daaaaa! :)

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Paula September 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi Dimity,
Yes, your method works great, as you know. My method is no more trouble IF…you already have the whey, which many of us do who make Greek yogurt. Thanks for writing.

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Betty September 24, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Home made is so much better than store bought! I’d love to try making my own cheese- you make it sound so easy! :)

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Caroline September 29, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Can’t wait to try this. Is it possible to use fat-free or 1% milk, or is more fat necessary for the cheese making process? I use fat-free milk (sometimes 1%) to make the yogurt.

Reply

Paula September 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Caroline,
I tried this with my favorite fat-free milk and it was not so good—a little chewy. May try again in the future but my first attempt wasn’t great.

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cheesy cow November 25, 2013 at 1:44 am

This is NOT Ricotta! (your title is mis
Hi ther
Ricotta cheese is made with whey (as the main ingredient) left over from the production of other cheese. In this case you are using whey to acidify whole milk.

have a look at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricotta

Reply

Sarah April 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Can I keep the whey leftover from making ricotta? Will it still be useful? I want to use it to make some sauerkraut.

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Paula April 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Hi Sarah,
Not sure. I haven’t tried it. Let me know if you do.

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Arlene April 13, 2014 at 5:54 am

Thanks again for another great recipe! I tried this with some leftover whey from making your Greek yogurt and it turned out great and only cost me £1, a third of what it would cost me to make my lasagne. I have also been using the leftover whey by adding it to my fresh fruit and veggie juices that I make every day. The pro-biotics in the whey seem to assist with the lack of fiber and you can’t even taste it. I hate waste. Thanks again! :)

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