Ricotta is traditionally made from the whey left over after making your main rennet set cheese recipe.
You may find that at times that you get an extremely low yield from your Ricotta make, which makes it hardly seem worth the effort.
There are a few things that will influence the yield you get from your whey including the season the milk is produced in, the level of acidity, the temperature you heat the whey to and the type of cheese you made first.
To explain the last point further, Ricotta is created from the remaining protein in the whey and some cheese makes take out more protein than others, leaving differing amounts to curdle into Ricotta.
In my experience a Mozzarella make leaves the best whey for making Ricotta. Other cheeses like Parmesan and Romano are also good.
Those trying to figure out why their yields are low might begin researching and discover the differing opinions about whether to use your whey fresh or aged. This is a bit of a red herring.
It’s not so much about how old your whey is, it’s really to do with what the acidity level is after your make and leaving your whey for 24 hours or so will allow the acidity to increase.
I personally use mine fresh and have always got a pretty good yield which suggests the acidity level has been suitable but some cheeses will leave whey with lower acidity levels.
You can address this by adding more acid (vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid) which then lets you use the whey straight away. Be careful not to add too much though and end up with a Ricotta that’s too tangy. Use a pH meter or strips if in doubt.
The best way to figure out what gives you a good Ricotta is to take notes during your make and change what appears to negatively impact your end results until you get exactly what you are after.
If you can’t be bothered with that and just want a guaranteed outcome with your Ricotta, try this Rich Ricotta recipe using full milk and cream instead of whey. It’s not traditional but it will be sure to give you the Ricotta you are hoping for.
Do you have any tips or advice about how to get the perfect Ricotta? Join the discussion over at the Curd Nerd Forum. We would love to hear from you!