1. Make as much of it as you can yourself, from scratch.
2. Use either food you grow yourself, or is grown near you, as much as possible.
3. Use recognizable real food, not mixes or partially prepared mixes. (This is what "from scratch" means.)
There are two ways ricotta is made. If you are already a cheesemaker and like to make mozzarella at home, the leftover whey can be made into ricotta. (This is a different recipe.) But I like to make it from whole milk. We don't have it that often, so why not have the best? It can be made from skim or fat-reduced milk, but we now know that butterfat is actually good for you, containing omega-3 acids. And whole milk ricotta is so delicious.
You need some citric acid. Ricotta is made by acidifying milk and heating it. This causes the protein to coagulate and make curds. Some people use lemon juice or vinegar, but to my taste these impart a flavor. Citric acid is a simple, pure, crystalline organic acid that can be found in shops who cater to brewmasters or picklemakers (or cheesemakers).
Here are the proportions of citric acid to be used. Dissolve the powder in water before adding it to the milk.
1 gallon milk 1 teaspoon citric acid 1/4 cup water
1/2 gallon milk 1/2 teaspoon citric acid 2 tablespoons water
A half gallon of milk makes about 3/4 pound of ricotta.
Cannelloni is a favorite way to use the ricotta in our house. This classic recipe is often made either with homemade pasta noodles (sheets) or purchased cannelloni pasta "tubes". I use crêpes as a shortcut, but one may also use large manicotti pasta or pasta shells. (A good basic crêpe recipe is on page 191 of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".)