I'm often asked to recommend books for home cheese-making. My honest opinion is: Why make cheese at home when purchased will inevitably be better? I've never encountered a homemade Cheddar or Parmesan that held a candle to the most basic options available in any supermarket.

The exception to my rule is ricotta. Most ricotta that’s available on supermarket shelves is industrially produced, grainy-textured and bland, thickened and stabilized with various gums. True, authentic ricotta is recooked whey, but most of what's sold in the United States is made from milk. You can make the same at home in fifteen minutes, and you are guaranteed impeccably fresh, creamy clouds of caramel-scented curd.

  • 2 cups whole milk (ideally, use organic and unhomogenized and not UHT—ultrapasteurized. If you must choose, prioritize the absence of UHT and homogenization over organic certification).
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar (it's possible to use lemon juice or buttermilk, but I don't recommend them for their more noticeable impact on flavor and curd structure).


Heat milk and salt over medium-high heat. Scrape and stir while the milk is heating to avoid a cooked milk layer on the bottom of your pot.

When milk begins to simmer (or registers 165° to 185° on an instant-read thermometer), add vinegar, turn heat to low and stir constantly for 1 to 2 minutes until curds rise and separate from liquid whey. If using raw milk, be sure to heat to 180°.

Remove pot from heat and spoon (don’t pour) curds into a double-paper-towel–lined sieve and drain to desired consistency. Expect draining to take 5 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the desired texture.

Note: Steps 1 and 2 can be completed in a microwave. Add all ingredients to a glass bowl and cook on high for two to four minutes, until mixture bubbles. Remove from microwave and stir. This may save your pots, but I swear the flavor isn’t as sweet and deep as stove-top ricotta.

Excerpted from The Book of Cheese by Liz Thorpe. Copyright © 2017 by Elizabeth Thorpe. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Ellen Silverman.


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