Ricotta is an Italian
sheep milk or cow milk whey cheese. Ricotta, lit. 'recooked', uses the whey, a
limpid, low-fat, nutritious liquid that is a by-product of cheese production.
Left: Ricotta cheese.
Ricotta is produced from whey, the liquid separated out from the curds when
cheese is made. Most of the milk protein (especially casein) is removed when
cheese is made, but some protein remains in the whey, mostly albumin. This
remaining protein can be harvested if the whey is first allowed to become more
acidic by additional fermentation (by letting it sit for 12–24 hours at room
Then the acidified whey is heated to near boiling. The combination
of low pH and high temperature causes additional protein to precipitate out,
forming a fine curd. Once cooled, the curd is separated by passing though a fine
cloth. This curd, after drainage, is ricotta. Because ricotta is made from whey, rather
than milk, it is a whey cheese, not technically a "cheese".
Ricotta is a fresh cheese (as opposed to ripened or
aged), grainy and creamy white in appearance, slightly sweet in taste,
and contains around 13% fat. In this form, it is somewhat similar in
texture to some cottage cheese variants, though considerably lighter.
Like many fresh cheeses, it is highly perishable.
mascarpone in northern-Italian cuisine, ricotta is a favorite component of
many Italian dishes, such as cheesecakes and cannoli. There are also kinds of
cookies that include ricotta as an ingredient.
In Italian households and dining establishments, ricotta is often beaten smooth
and mixed with condiments, such as sugar, cinnamon, orange flower water and
occasionally chocolate shavings, and served as a dessert. This basic combination
(often with additions such as citrus and pistachios) also features prominently
as the filling of the crunchy tubular shell of the Sicilian
cannoli, and layered
with slices of cake in Palermo's
Ricotta may also be used in savory dishes, including
pasta tubes stuffed with a