Homemade Ricotta Cheese (or Paneer/Queso Fresco)
Author: Marla Hingley
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Using non-fat milk may not be as successful to make this type of cheese at home. As once the milk is heated the added acid causes the milk proteins to bind together, trapping in moisture and fat into the curds. If there is not enough fat for the proteins to combine with, you won't get as much or as dense of curds.
Ingredients
Equipment Needed
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Cheesecloth (3 - 12x12 squares)
  • Colander
  • String
Buttermilk Version
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup buttermilk*
  • ¾ tsp salt
Lemon Juice or Vinegar Version
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice or distilled white vinegar*
  • ¾ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. For the buttermilk version, in a large heavy bottom pot (like a Dutch oven) combine the whole milk and salt over medium-high heat, stirring gently until thermometer reads 190°F (begins to boil). Slowly pour in buttermilk, stirring gently until combined then stop stirring and allow to come up to 190°F again, curds should be forming*. Remove from heat, cover and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  2. For the lemon juice/vinegar, combine the whole milk and salt over medium-high heat, stirring gently until thermometer reads 190°F (begins to boil). Turn off heat and slowly pour in the lemon juice or vinegar, stirring gently until combined – curds should be forming*. Remove from heat, cover and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  3. For both, line a colander (place a bowl underneath it) with 3 layers of sterilized** cheesecloth then use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to gently scoop out the curds and place into the center of the cheesecloth. Pour the remaining liquid (whey) through the cloth as well, to strain out any last bits of curd. Try to avoid pouring over the pile of curds as you don't want to break them up.
  4. For ricotta, let drain 5-25 minutes, or until you get the consistency you desire (depending on how you want to use the cheese). Gather the cheesecloth up to form a ball, twist the ball and gently squeeze to release any further excess liquid.
  5. For paneer, allow to drain 25 minutes then gather the cheesecloth up to form a ball, twist the ball and gently squeeze to release any further excess liquid. Tie the bundle with a bit of string to secure it and place it back in the colander (with a bowl underneath) and weight it down with a large can of food (like a large can of tomatoes). Place the setup in the fridge for 4-24 hours before using. For flavored paneer, before you wrap the bundle up with string, gently stir in finely minced (fresh or dried) herbs, or for some spiciness try minced jalapenos or a pinch of crushed red chili flakes.
Notes
*If you’re finding the milk isn’t curdling, add in another tablespoon or two to the mixture, heat the mixture again. Also be sure when you are stirring to do it very gently, you want to gather the curds not break up.
**To sterilized the cheesecloth, place it in boiling water for 3 minutes.
-I purposely listed the ingredients in small amounts so you can get familiar with making the cheese. The recipe makes about ⅓ cup cheese, but the ratios can be scaled up with no problems.
Recipe by Gluten Free Club at https://www.glutenfreeclub.com/homemade-ricotta-paneer/