Aaahhh Ricotta. What was once thought around the US (especially us non-Italian Americans) as exclusive to our feeble attempts at homemade lasagna (although I must admit that I always liked my Aunt Bubba’s) and a tasty ingredient in pre-made and store-bought ravioli, has been making a comeback. Well…lets be honest…it has always been here, has been a part of Italian Grandmother’s regular provisions, and in cultures around the world, has been added to pastas, desserts, muffins, pancakes, Neapolitan pizza, and of course my favorite…cannoli, for years.
In the US, we have probably not been accustomed to as much of the good stuff as we think. Ricotta can be super-thick and sold in the big brand cheese aisle of various supermarkets in the red and green plastic containers, or can be a fluffy, light, creamy almost cottage cheese look and texture (although MUCH lighter) to it…which is the way it is prepped in most countries who use this gorgeous dairy product in their cooking.
Ricotta is traditionally made with cow’s milk, the cow’s cream, and just another ingredient or two (in this recipe just white vinegar and salt). Although not a traditional cheese as it doesn’t rely on an outside enzyme to help, this traditionally Italian cheese can be made with sheep and goat’s milk as well, which has a bearing on the various textures we have observed in our country.
As part of my 2013 commitment to explore some of these artisan-at-home recipes, I have been trying to learn to use dairy products in a more meaningful, if not cheaper, way. I don’t think I am ready to homestead, or even write a book on the subject, but I do think that sharing some of these tried and true, even “ancient” recipes for various cheeses that can be made at home, over a little bit of time, that are both fun and challenging.
Enjoy this ridiculously simple, creamy ricotta recipe.
Note: committing to high quality, as close-to-natural ingredients are ABSOLUTELY necessary. When you can, buy organic, non-homogenized milk products for your home cheese-making journey.