Are you a cheese lover? Do you enjoy everything that has cheese in it? Ever since I have been introduced to ricotta, my desserts and savory dishes have become more delicious than ever! So, what is ricotta cheese and how is it different from the other soft cheeses?
What is ricotta cheese?
Ricotta is a type of Italian whey cheese. It has a creamy texture and a slightly sweet taste. Although it can be made from water buffalo, goat, sheep, and cow milk, the one you find at the grocery store generally comes from cow milk. A closer look at ricotta’s production process shows that it is technically a cheese byproduct.[i] This is because ricotta is prepared after reheating the whey surplus of other types of cheese like provolone and mozzarella. Technically, it isn’t a cheese in the traditional sense.
How are Italian and American ricottas different?
In Italy, ricotta cheese is made from cow, sheep, goat, or water buffalo milk. However, in the US, it is predominantly made from cow milk. The Italian ricotta is sweeter, while the American variant is saltier and while it is still sweet, it is less so.
Is ricotta cheese gluten-free?
Good news for those who love gluten-free food! Like most types of cheese, ricotta usually does not contain gluten.[ii] However, products made from ricotta cheese may contain some traces of gluten. For instance, mozzarella sticks and cheesecake are generally not gluten-free.
What does ricotta cheese taste like?
Ricotta is a creamy white cheese that tastes slightly sweet and soft in texture. Fresh ricotta is firm and comprises of granules.[iii] Fresh ricotta will have a slight grainy texture the grains should be smooth, not crunchy.
Is ricotta cheese and cottage cheese the same?
A cheese maker creates whey and curds from cream and milk. Curds produce cottage cheese while whey creates ricotta cheese. As they are extracted from similar methods, they retain mild and soft flavor, despite having their own unique textures. Both ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are:
- White cheese processing by-products.
- Used in a variety of savory and dessert dishes.
- Easy to find in most grocery stores in the cold dairy section.
As a result, you can use them interchangeably in a wide variety of recipes. However, they are some major differences as well. Cottage cheese has a looser texture, whereas ricotta is known for its sweeter, moist and grainy texture.
For all fitness enthusiasts out there: ricotta cheese has varying calorie levels, so be careful! A half-cup of cottage cheese includes 115 calories and 1% cottage cheese contains 80 calories. On the other hand, a half cup of ricotta—made from whole milk—consists of 215 calories. Replace whole milk with skim milk, and you get 170 calories per half-cup. Furthermore, you cannot substitute them with each other in a dessert where texture is important.
How long does ricotta cheese last?
Unopened ricotta cheese that has been stored properly in the refrigerator can last for 7-10 days, provided the fridge temperature does not exceed 40°F.When stored in the freezer, it can last up to 3 months.[iv]
Is it possible to freeze ricotta cheese?
Even though ricotta cheese tastes best when it’s fresh, you can freeze it if you want. However, this means that the cheese’s texture is likely to be affected. If baked into savory dishes, no one may ever know that it was frozen.
How to store ricotta cheese in the fridge?
If you have not opened ricotta cheese yet, put the package in the fridge. On the other hand, if you have opened the package, place it in a re-sealable bag or container and put it into the fridge. Fresh cheeses need to be kept cold.
How to use ricotta cheese
You can use ricotta cheese in several ways.[v] Here are some awesome tips from Tasty:
- Mix it with avocado, watermelon, and nut to create a refreshing spring salad.
- Make a mug cake with minimal effort.
- Add ricotta with marinara to a bowl of spaghetti to make it even more rich and delicious.
- Blend it with crunchy granola, honey, or grilled fruits for a dessert or snack.
- Make a Cannoli Dip with ricotta.
- Add ricotta to scrambled eggs for a scrumptious breakfast.
- Mix it with mayonnaise, Parmesan, and cooked spinach to prepare a dip.
- Bake a cheesecake.
Note: Do you want to know how to make ricotta cheese at home? Check out this video.