Let’s get started with Easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese
I want you to close your eyes and picture a world without cheese. I know what a sad, sad world that is. I don’t know about y’all but quarantine for me has been more or less this world. With the exception of processed cheese slices sure, but real cheese lovers know that doesn’t even count. I longed for some good, unprocessed, fresh cheese in my world making me want to run out mid-pandemic and buy some. After a very short internal debate on if I should go out during a pandemic or not, looking for cheese of all things – I decided to stay home and make Homemade Ricotta Cheese.
Homemade Ricotta cheese is the softest, creamiest cheese you can easily make at home. It involves the simple process of adding an acid to your milk and allowing it to curdle. Yes, that’s truly it! I mean, the Italians have been making this cheese in their homes since the Bronze Age (First Millenium BC). Another great thing about ricotta is the fact that it is probably the healthiest cheese option out there. So to fulfil all of your cheese cravings, ricotta is the direction you need to go! If you are a household that makes paneer at home as most Indian homes do, you just made your Ricotta making process that much easier for yourself.
The Origin Story
Ricotta which literally means “recooked” is one of the oldest cheeses in the world! Historians date ricotta back to the Bronze age where Italians would make this soft and sweet cheese out of the byproducts of making other cheeses. The Italians back then would make this cheese in ceramic bowls that they would use as milk boilers. With the increase in production of hard cheeses and with that the byproducts such as whey protein, the recipe transformed. Cheesemakers were now predominantly using Whey to make their ricotta which gave birth to the traditional Ricotta Cheese we see today! And today we will exactly try to do that by making some homemade ricotta cheese. Click here to read more about ricotta!
Milk is quite obviously the primary ingredient while making any cheese. Especially while making fresh and soft cheeses like homemade ricotta, the quality of the milk matters a lot. Ricotta while being sweet and salty does take on a lot of the natural taste of the milk. So I would suggest one use high-quality milk and fresh cream in order to take advantage of the natural taste of the ingredients!
When an acid is added to milk, it causes the milk to break and curdle. This acid is a key element to any Whey cheese like homemade ricotta cheese. There are tons of natural and synthetic acids you can use to make your milk curdle. I prefer using good old lemons which are always stocked in my fridge or vinegar in its absence. You could try to use synthetic citric acid and ascorbic acid. Each of these mildly changes the after taste of the cheese. If you’re looking for quite an acidic ricotta, I’d suggest you use natural or synthetic citric acids and if you wanna achieve a sweeter, less acidic, almost dessert worthy ricotta you should use ascorbic acid.
Is Ricotta Cheese Healthy?
I think it doesn’t come as a surprise when I say Ricotta Cheese on the daily is not the best choice, especially if you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. But I’d like to think that there’s room for everything in moderation. Contrary to popular beliefs, real cheeses are not as unhealthy as they say.
Especially homemade ricotta cheese (which are made out of whey proteins) have a good amount of protein (11g+), low sodium, and are high in vitamins and calcium as well. I must stress on the words I used earlier – “Real Cheeses”. I say this because processed and store-bought packaged cheeses will never have the same taste or health benefits as real, freshly made cheeses. So I would suggest you either attempt to make easy cheeses such as ricotta at home or buy authentic cheese.
Although if you wanna read more about homemade ricotta cheese and its health benefits you can click here!