How to make Ricotta Cheese: separate protein molecules

Have your ever wanted to know how to make ricotta cheese? It is easier than you think and you can do a science experiment at the same time.  I love making cheese from whole milk because it tastes super yummy.  This is a fun experiment because I can actually get the kids to try something they made. Follow along with us as we how we separate proteins.

What you need:

  • img_34128 cups whole milk or half gallon milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • pot
  • bowl – for the liquid to drip into
  • strainer
  • cheese cloth

What you do

  1. img_3448Put your strainer inside bowl and line with cheesecloth
  2. Combine Milk, heavy cream, and salt in pot
  3. Heat on medium heat till candy thermometer reaches 175-180 degrees
  4. Remove pan from heat
  5. Stir in Lemon juice till combined and let sit for 20 minutes undisturbed
  6. Pour everything into strainer lined with the cheesecloth
  7. Let sit for 30 min – 1 hour undisturbed
  8. squeeze out remaining liquid
  9. Add salt and garlic to taste
  10. will last for about one week

What we discovered

img_3449We discovered that it is best to pick up the cheesecloth  and squeeze over the strainer in the bowl.  A lot more solids will squeeze out of the cheesecloth into the strainer. We then let that sit for a few hours in the fridge so it could drain into the bowl.  We ended up with about 2 cups worth of cheese, a lot more than I expected. I also added salt and garlic mixture to the cheese and it tasted wonderful.  Cheesecloth is hard to find but the best place was a cooking store, Bed Bath, and Beyond or Amazon.

Science behind it: 

img_3441Hidden inside the milk are milk proteins that are connected like velcro. Heat and lemon juice cause the protein to unfold. They then start bumping into each other and become connected or grab hold. As they grab hold they form a sold. Fats, sugars, and other parts get trapped into the tangled protein. What is left over is the water and now you have milk you can bite into.

Item we used to make this:

candy thermometer:
Induction cooktop:
Gourmet Nesting pots:
Cheese Cloth:
Butcher Salt:
Garlic and Sea Salt:


About Chrissie

Follow our crazy journey across America as we visit roadside oddities, historical land marks and beautiful landscapes. I have ton of ideas and review educational products that will help you get the most on your home school adventure. We are an Unschool family that believes the world is our classroom and is teaching our children to self direct their education to a better future.