At first impression, whey is a hassle for the home cheesemaker. There's so much of it, and it doesn't appear to have much value. It tastes vaguely acidic and bland, and dwarfs your solid-cheese product by about ten to one, leaving you grumbling that you wanted to make mozzarella, not a big bowl of whey!
If you've gone to the trouble of making any kind of cheese at home, whey ricotta is an easy second step that stretches a little more fruit out of your labors. By having made whey in the first place, about 90% of your work is already done!
The process for making whey ricotta is basically the same as that for making whole-milk ricotta, except that you begin with fluid whey instead of fluid whole milk. The yield will be smaller, because most of the milk solids have already been gleaned from whey.
You'll need a pot big enough to boil your whey, a colander lined with cheesecloth or muslin, and a thermometer. If you want to retain the whey from this ricotta, you'll also need a large bowl to place under the colander. I find that ricotta made with vinegar can have a strong, acidic flavor that's lovely when mixed with fresh herbs or a little roasted garlic.
Whey Ricotta Cheese
About the author: Katrina Vahedi has had a decade-long professional love affair with cheese and all things dairy. She is currently a curd pusher at New York's Saxelby Cheesemongers, after 9 years of mongering in California.
- Yield:up to 1 cup cheese
- 1 to 2 gallons fresh whey
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- A pinch of salt
Heat your whey to 200°F, or a low boil.
Let the curds come together for 5 minutes or so, then drain the pot into your cloth-lined colander.
The bulk of the whey should drain out within the first 5 minutes. When your ricotta has reached the desired balance of creaminess v. curdiness, scoop the cheese into a bowl and refrigerate until use.