I had the pleasure of going to the Italiani agli Antipodi “Easy Italian Meals” cooking course at the weekend. I was very excited to go, because the programme included home-made ricotta! Now, “easy meals” and “home-made ricotta” are not two phrases I would put in the same sentence as a rule, but guess what? It’s super easy!
I couldn’t wait to get home and try it for myself. You can look up a recipe, so I won’t repeat it here, but it’s basically simmering, salted milk to which you add lemon juice or vinegar to deliberately curdle it. You then strain the solids in a cheesecloth. Very quick and so delicious while it’s still warm!
Ricotta is actually not a real cheese (there’s no rennet involved) but rather a by-product of the Italian cheese-making process. I’ve seen it made on sheep farms in Italy. Sheep’s milk ricotta is much stronger than the regular kind, good in baking, but perhaps too strong just for eating. The best, according to Italian mammas, is goat’s milk ricotta. It’s delicate and light.
The Italiani agli Antipodi hosts, Cristina and Paolo recommend using unpasteurised milk for even more flavour. I’m sure I’ve seen raw goat’s milk for sale somewhere, so I’ll try that when I can.