Homemade ricotta is a soft dairy cheese usually made from a combination of milk, cream, and whey. It is easy to make, and can be made from cow, goat, or sheep dairy sources. Ricotta can be used fresh or frozen for future use. It is easy to incorporate in many types of recipes. Once a cook has mastered basic ricotta, she may choose to experiment with variations or learn to make other cheeses.
Making homemade ricotta is simple. Milk, cream, and whey is heated, and ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or sea salt may be added. The mixture is placed in a cheese cloth-lined colander with a bowl underneath to filter excess liquid. Once the liquid is filtered, the ricotta should be chilled until it is used.
Someone making homemade ricotta may wish to experiment with several different variations of milk and whey to find one she likes best. Ricotta is commonly made with whole, two percent, skim milk, or buttermilk. The milk can be cow, goat, or sheep milk, and organic or grass-fed milk may be used. A cook can create a ricotta for her specific food preferences.
Although homemade ricotta is easy to make, additional resources are available. The cook can buy a ricotta cheese-making kit if she’d like. Classes are also often offered through local community education programs.
This cheese can be used in a number of Italian dishes, such as lasagna or cannelloni. It may substitute for cottage cheese in many recipes as well. Those with a sweet tooth may enjoy fresh, homemade ricotta cheese cake.
Ricotta is a good source of calcium and protein. Adding it to a diverse range of dishes, such as pancakes, muffins, casseroles, pasta, and omelets, can increase their nutrition value. The cook should keep in mind that, unlike many hard cheeses, soft ricotta contains significant amounts of lactose, so it is not suitable for people who are lactose intolerant.
Homemade ricotta can be used fresh within two days after making, or it may be frozen for up to six months. To reduce future meal preparation time, a cook may prefer to make several batches of ricotta to freeze and keep on hand. Ricotta should be pure white. If it has turned yellow, it has begun to spoil and should not be eaten.
People who enjoy making ricotta cheese can experiment with variations of recipes and the type of milk or cream they use. They may also expand their skills and begin making other types of homemade cheese. Mozzarella, for example, is another cheese that is easily made fresh at home.