© Denzil Green
Ricotta Cheese is a soft fresh cheese made from the whey left over after making other cheeses — usually cow’s milk cheeses.
The whey is heated to 77 C (170 F.) Citric acid is added, then the temperature raised further to 85 C. (185 F) The heat curdles the whey, by causing the proteins in the whey to coagulate without the need for rennet to be added. The curds are skimmed off and let drain for two days. The cheese is then ready to be sold and eaten.
There are three additional varieties of ricotta.
- Ricotta Salata Moliterna (uses whey from sheep’s milk)
- Ricotta Piemontese (uses whey from cow’s milk + 10% regular cow’s milk)
- Ricotta Romana (ricotta made from the whey left over when making Romano cheese.)
In North America, you will find many other varieties as well, such as ricotta made from whole milk, partially-skim milk, etc.
Colander for draining ricotta cheese. © Emiliano Spada / 2007 / morguefile.
Ricotta cheese drained and moulded in a basket. Rome. © Emiliano Spada / 2007 / morguefile.com
Ricotta is very good to use when you need something to bind ingredients in a recipe together.
For whatever quantity of ricotta needed, try a similar quantity of cottage cheese: mash the cottage cheese with 1 tablespoon of powdered milk.
Or, try Pressed Cottage Cheese.
Nutrition FactsPer 100 g (3.5 oz)AmountCalories185Fat14.8 gSaturated9.3 gCalcium210 mg
1 cup = 8 oz in weight = 250g
Refrigerate. Discard if any mould appears.
Freezing ricotta: put sealed tub in freezer. When thawing, stir any liquid on top back in. Don’t use microwave to speed up thawing. Thawed ricotta may be grainier than fresh ricotta, but that should not be overly apparent if used in cooking with other ingredients.
Bernice Abbott / Window display at Mandaro Latticini Freschi cheese store in Manhattan, including sign advertising ricotta cheese. 1937. (The New York Public Library Digital Collections, Image 482774)
Ricotta > ri (re) + cotta (cooked), referring to heating the whey a second time (the first time was when the whey was created during the making of another cheese.)