Organic ricotta cheese is produced by a number of commercial dairies. It is also a simple cheese to make at home.
What Is Organic Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta cheese is a fresh cheese that is similar in many ways to Cottage Cheese. The word ricotta means "recooked". It got this name because ricotta was originally made from the leftover whey that resulted from the making of Mozzarella and Provolone cheeses.
The process resulted in a sweet, fresh cheese that had a tiny, firm curd. It tends to be somewhat dry. It is used in many Italian dishes both sweet and savory. Among them are:
Organic ricotta cheese is produced in the same way as conventional cottage cheese but using fresh, organically produced ingredients. This means that the ricotta has to be made according to the following regulations:
- No antibiotics in the milk
- No hormones
- No pesticides
- Cows are fed certified organic feed and hay
- Cows graze on certified organic pasture
Ricotta has five times the calcium of cottage cheese and is a healthy dietary choice. Research has shown that cows raised on pasture produce a milk that is richer in vitamins and nutrients as well.
As an added benefit, normally no rennet is used in the production of ricotta. Those vegetarians that prefer not to eat products associated with the the slaughter of animals can eat ricotta with no problem. Ricotta comes in both low fat and whole milk versions.
Until 2005 there was not an organic ricotta that was distributed nationally. In 2005, Organic Valley products began producing and distributing their ricotta across the United States. Since that time, other companies have followed suit and many different brands of ricotta can be found on grocery store shelves.
You will most often find organic ricotta cheese at specialty stores and health food stores that specialize in organic foods. Some of the national stores that carry organic cheese of all kinds are:
It is not difficult to make your own ricotta cheese at home. If you use organic products, you will have an organic cheese.Here's what you will need:
- 1 gallon organic milk
- ¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar
- ¼ c organic, unsalted, melted butter
- ½ tsp baking soda
- Heat the milk to 195F, use a thermometer for accuracy. This will take two hours on low heat and you need to make sure it does not boil or stick to the pan bottom. Stir often.
- When it gets to 195F, slowly stir in the vinegar. Pour it in almost a drop at a time stirring constantly.
- The curds will separate from the whey. As soon as this happens, stop adding the vinegar. If you aren't seeing the curds separate, carefully bring the temperature up to 205F.
- Using a slotted spoon, ladle the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth.
- Drain for one minute.
- Gently spoon the curds into a bowl.
- Stir in baking soda and melted butter.
You can store this tightly covered in the refrigerator about two weeks. You will get about two pounds cheese per gallon of milk.
Using Organic Ricotta
Besides being used in a variety of main dish casseroles, you can use ricotta the way that you would cottage cheese.
- Mix with organic fruit
- Drizzle with truffle infused olive oil
- Add herbs and salt and spread on croustades
- Make cheesecake
You can find a number of recipes using ricotta on the Internet. Just remember that for it to be organic everything has to be organic. Here are some you may be interested in:
Using organic ricotta is a healthy way to experiment with this versatile cheese. Whether you buy it from a local producer, a national brand, or make it yourself you are sure to come up with some delicious meals.