Ricotta is disappointingly underrated outside of Italy. People think of it as a filler ingredient, an extra in a dish with big stars. You mix it up with big flavors assuming it is only useful for its texture. Poor ricotta, why don’t more people swoon over you?
I personally love ricotta, it’s one of my favorite cheese. I love its delicate fragrance, its rich taste, its creamy texture. I love it for its memories associated with my childhood, of long Italian summers, and of my loving grandmother. My grandmother who prepared us these sweet ricotta snacks with such an effortless flair. It was freshly-made, still-warm ricotta, with some sugar whisked in. That was it.
It honestly is incredibly flavorsome and lovely on its own — as long as it’s good ricotta. So give it another chance, and hey, the good news is you can easily make good ricotta at home.
It’s just three ingredients – milk, acid, and salt. Now I’ve tried with cow’s milk and goat’s milk, both gave good results, though you may have to adjust the amount of acid for goat’s as I’ve had to add a bit more. Avoid low fat or skim milk as you need the milk fat to separate from the whey and curdle. With acid, you can go for lemon juice, distilled vinegar or white wine vinegar. Drain it for as long as you want depending on if you like your ricotta on the wet or dry side.
Makes 1 cup
4 cups milk
1/2 tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Place the milk in a large pot over medium heat. Add salt and stir occasionally so the milk doesn’t burn in the bottom.
Heat the milk to about 82-88C, and if you don’t have a thermometer, it’s just when you see bubbles rising from the edges but it should not boil.
Remove from heat and add the acid. Stir gently a couple of times and just leave it undisturbed for about 20 minutes.
Line a sieve with a cheesecloth/j-cloth and place it above a big bowl if you can. Or a pot, or whatever that will hold it. Gently pour the milk over it, try not to disturb the curds, so be gentle. Use a ladle maybe.
Let drain for 5-20 minutes, depending on how you like the consistency.
Keep it in the fridge and eat within 3 days