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Homemade Fresh Cheese in 15 Minutes

Ever wondered how to make cheese? Funky blue, creamy triple cream, sharp cheddar—the world of cheese includes a whole range of tastes, textures, aromas, and character. But at their core, every cheese starts out the same: as coagulated dairy. Talented cheesemakers use everything from wild bacteria to mold to coagulate their cheese, but at home you don’t need anything of the sort—if you follow a basic blueprint, you can use items you probably already have on hand.

How to Make Fresh Ricotta Cheese

As the Lee Brothers put it in their cookbook Simple, Fresh, Southern, “If you can boil water, you can make this buttermilk cheese.” And learning how to make cheese really is that simple: heat dairy low and slow, then add in an acid and salt to trigger the coagulation process. Almost instantaneously, you’ll see the dairy separate into thick milky curds and a pale yellow liquid that’s called whey. (It’s pretty cool to watch.) After that, you just spoon the curds into a cheesecloth-lined strainer, and voila, homemade cheese.

Here are four easy steps for how to make cheese:

Use the Right Amount of Acid

While the brothers Lee aren’t exaggerating about the ease of the task, we found out during several rounds of testing that using the right ratio of dairy to acid is hugely important. Too little, and your mixture won’t curdle and set into cheese; too much, and the flavor will be overpoweringly tart. There are many different approaches, and you’ll find recipes calling for lemon juice, buttermilk, and even vegetable rennet, which can be ordered online. We settled on using distilled white vinegar, because we always keep a bottle in our kitchens (convenience is key) and it has a more consistent acid level than lemon juice or buttermilk.


1 liter of milk
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
Pepper for taste

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