Ricotta Cheese

Intrigued by a recipe for Homemade Ricotta Cheese made with whole milk I saw in the April 2010 issue of Bon Appetit, I decided to try making it with 1% milk to reduce the fat content. I made one batch of ricotta with whole milk as the recipe specified and a second batch with 1% milk to compare the results. In both cases, I used whole buttermilk because I couldn’t find 2% at any of my local grocery stores. I also had a really hard time finding cheesecloth on the tiny island where I live. Thank goodness for Ace Hardware!

Curds forming. In colander. Can you tell which is made from
whole milk and which from 1%?

The “cheese” I produced in both cases wasn’t like any store-bought ricotta I’ve ever tasted. It was crumbly, dry and perfect for a salad or a ricotta-based “crème” dessert like those favored in Phase I of the South Beach Diet. The whole milk produced a richer cheese than the 1% milk did, but it didn’t have a significantly better taste or texture. The primary difference between the two was in yield – the whole milk produced more curds and, therefore, more cheese.

I had a difficult time determining the nutritional content of the ricotta since so much liquid (whey) was left after the cheesemaking was complete. I plugged the ingredients I used into NutritionData.com and reported the results below, but I know these numbers do not accurately reflect the nutritional content of the ricotta because the whey obviously has calories, fat, protein, etc. as well. Think of the numbers below as rough estimates, useful primarily as a way to compare the whole milk ricotta to the 1% ricotta. The whole milk version has approximately a third more calories, twice as much fat and twice as much cholesterol. If anyone knows of a good way to figure out the actual nutritional content, please let me know!

What could I have done with the leftover whey? I really hated throwing it out.


8 cups whole milk or 1% milk
2 cups buttermilk

Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy pot. Attach candy thermometer to side of pot and place over high heat. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, line a colander with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth (allowing overhang). Place colander in sink.

Once the temperature of the mixture in the pot reaches about 140°F, small clumps (curds) will begin to form. You will need to stir almost constantly from this point on. At about 175°F to 180°F, the curds will separate from the liquid (whey) and float to the top. Turn off the heat.

Using a skimmer or large, slotted spoon, transfer curds (solids) to colander. Gather cheesecloth around ricotta and lift. You want to drain some of the liquid off, but don’t squeeze the cheese too firmly or too-dry ricotta will result. Return the cheese to the colander and let it rest for 20 minutes or so at room temperature.

Transfer the cheese to a small bowl, removing the cheesecloth. Sprinkle with salt and mix gently. Cover and chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Makes 10 servings
Per serving (whole milk): 145 calories, 7g fat (4g sat), 23mg cholesterol, 120mg sodium, 13g carb, 0g fiber, 13g sugar, 8g protein
Per serving (1% milk): 109 calories, 3g fat (2g sat), 14mg cholesterol, 128mg sodium, 13g carb, 0g fiber, 13g sugar, 9g protein


  1. diabeticFoodie says

    Thanks, Susie. The recipe you link to uses roughly the same amount of ingredients (8 cups 2% milk plus 2-1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk) and also makes 10 servings. For comparison purposes, my 1% version should be similar since I didn’t use low-fat buttermilk. Per serving they get 39 calories, 2g fat, 9g cholesterol, 35g sodium, 2g carb, 3g protein. So I’m off a bit. Thanks for sharing this. Good stuff!

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