Ricotta is a "by-product cheese" (gross), made from the whey which is left over from other cheeses. "Ricotta" literally means "recooked." Leftover whey from hard cheeses is heated and combined with a little fresh milk. The result is a soft white curd cheese with a rather solid, kinda granular consistency. 20% fat.

Commercially-produced ricotta is made from cow's milk, but in rural areas sheep's or goat's milk is sometimes used.

The American Heart Association suggests using ricotta as a low-fat substitute for sour cream, but come on.


Ricotta Salata or table ricotta, also called grating ricotta is the soft ricotta with further drying time. Ricotta is hung in fine cotton cloth to drain out the whey. The longer it hangs, the harder (and dryer) it gets. Best when it is is solid but not rock hard. This is a wonderful cheese for all of your favorite pasta dishes.

Although theoretically ricotta can be cow's milk or sheep's milk based, I have only seen Ricotta Salata that is made from 100% sheep's milk. I've only seen it imported from Italy.

It has a tangy, and somewhat salty taste. Taste will vary according to manufacturer and the type of cheese the whey was originally from.

Depending on where you buy it the shape may vary from a ball, a cone or a cylinder. I've usually purchased chunks from a large wheel cheese but did find a cone once.

Table ricotta will last a few weeks in the refrigerator and a few months in the freezer. As it ages it gets mold on the edges. This can be sliced off and the inner cheese is still good.

Some textural quality is lost in the freezer but it is sometimes worth it if you don't get to the Italian market very often. If you freeze it, cut it into 1 - 2 inch chunks, wrap individually in tin foil and defrost slowly in refrigerator over night, on counter for a couple of hours or if in microwave on lowest power for 20 second increments.

I eat it and cook with it all the time
In Baltimore THE PLACE for Italian Groceries is:
Trinacria Macaroni Works
open 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Saturday
406 N Paca St
Baltimore, MD 21201-1880


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