Vinegar Set Fresh Milk Ricotta Cheese

A very easy cheese to begin with is vinegar set fresh milk ricotta. It takes no rennet or starters or press, but does take some care and practice.

Equipment is essential in making good cheese. First is a stainless steel pot with lid. As with choosing a milk pail and tote, quality is worth the price as it can last for years. one of mine is thirty years old. As to size, one holding two gallons is a good place to start.

set fresh milk ricotta cheese
When the vinegar is whisked in, the curd is scattered in the whey. Once the pan is set aside to cool, the curd settles down to the bottom leaving a layer of whey on top. This whey can be used in cooking, if it is fresh. One cheese maker I met poured the whey out in a trough for her goats. They loved it.

Other equipment for vinegar set fresh milk ricotta includes a dairy thermometer, stainless steel colander, cloth (Most recipes call for cheesecloth. I prefer bridal veil netting as the weave is set and it is easy to wash.) and whisk. The other ingredients are fresh milk and white vinegar.

Although this cheese is called vinegar set, it is actually acid set. Instead of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar will work, but can color the cheese slightly. Lemon juice works, but gives a lower yield. It’s great for lemon cheesecake.

After milking, bring in the milk and strain it directly into the pot. I like using a wire strainer lined with a paper towel for this. Milk from the refrigerator can be used as long as it isn’t more than a day old.

fresh milk ricotta cheese
Once the layer of whey is poured off, the layer of fresh milk ricotta cheese is left. Pouring off the whey must be down carefully or the cheese will break and pour out too. Usually I pour the whey out through the colander so it catches the cheese. There is additional whey in the cheese. It will drain out on its own. I put the colander back on the pan, put a plate over it and set it in the refrigerator for a few hours. The whey can be pressed or squeezed out also.

Slowly heat the milk. This cheese has a wide temperature tolerance. Most cheeses need a precise temperature. The final temperature can be 175 degrees to 185 degrees. Do not allow the milk to boil. Occasional stirring with the whisk helps heat the milk evenly.

I prefer the lower temperature as the milk sets slightly slower allowing stirring with the whisk to keep the curd smaller.

The amount of vinegar used is not precise either. I generally use 1/2 cup per gallon. This sets the milk quickly and gives a minimal vinegar taste.

When the milk reaches the desired temperature, whisk in the vinegar. You will see the curd form. Turn off the heat or move the pot off the heat. Cover it and leave it until the cheese cools down.

Line the colander with the cloth. Pour the curds and whey into the colander. Work the cheese to remove the whey.

draining fresh milk ricotta cheese
This was a small batch of fresh milk ricotta cheese from a half gallon of milk. It was set at around 170 degrees with the vinegar whisked in briskly and gave a fine curd. Larger curd is easier to drain. This is a good cheese to use instead of tomato sauce on pizza with vegetable slices, meat etc. spread on top along with mozzarella cheese.

Since my colander has small holes, I don’t bother with a cloth unless the curd is very fine. I pour the liquid in, let it drain, pick up the colander and roll it so the curds begin to coalesce removing more of the whey. Press out more whey with a spoon or your hands.

Put the curds into a storage container and refrigerate. Your vinegar set fresh milk ricotta is ready to use.

There are some milk, cheese and meat recipes in “Goat Games“.