Photo: Thomas J. Story; Styling: Karen Shinto
Makes 4 cups, plus 10 cups whey

How to Make It

Step 1

Step 1: "Ripen" the milk. Pour milk into an 8- to 10-qt. heavy-bottomed pot and insert dairy thermometer. Heat milk over medium-high heat to 85°, stirring often to prevent scorching. Remove from heat, remove thermometer, and sprinkle culture as evenly as possible over milk; let rest 10 minutes, then gently stir 1 minute in one direction. Dilute rennet in 2 tbsp. cool water and pour in evenly all over the milk; stir the same way. Dilute calcium chloride in 2 tbsp. cool water; pour and stir as you did the culture and rennet. Stir once in opposite direction to stop movement of milk. Cover with cheesecloth; let rest overnight on counter.

Step 2

Step 2: Drain your curds. Ladle curds out of the pot into a large colander, lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth and set over a clean bucket. About 10 cups of whey will drain into the bucket; use for Homemade Ricotta (transfer whey to a bowl in the fridge whenever there's enough to collect). Drain curds 6 to 8 hours at room temperature, until the cheese resembles thick sour cream, scooping and turning with a soup spoon every hour or so in order to let the curds dry evenly.

Step 3

Step 3: Dress your curds. Turn fromage blanc into a large bowl and stir in Crème Fraîche and salt to taste. Cheese is now ready to eat. It keeps, chilled in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

Step 4

What you'll need:

Step 5

These supplies may seem a bit mad-scientist, but they're easy to use. Find them—unless otherwise noted—at the Beverage People ( or 800/544-1867). One very important note: Be scrupulously clean when making cheese—scrub surfaces with antibacterial soap and boil utensils (ladle, spoons, etc.) for 20 minutes before using. You don't want bad bacteria messing with the good.

Step 6

Calcium chloride: A type of salt that helps firm up the curds.

Step 7

Cheesecloth: A loosely woven cloth for lining cheese molds or colanders. Find at most grocery stores.

Step 8

Ricotta mold: A small woven basket made of food-grade plastic; gives your ricotta a pretty shape.

Step 9

Fromage blanc culture: Gives cheese both flavor and texture; looks a lot like freeze-dried yeast used for baking.

Step 10

Dairy thermometer: Unlike a candy thermometer, measures low temperatures too. You can substitute an instant-read thermometer.

Step 11

Vegetarian rennet: A lab-created version of the natural enzymes that coagulate milk.

Step 12

Note: Nutritional analysis is per oz.

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