Ricotta Cheese

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An unripened Italian cheese, made from cow's, ewe's, or goat's milk whey that remains after the curds are removed. Following the removal of the curds, the whey is reheated to form another curd that becomes ricotta cheese. As it is allowed to dry, the result is a white cheese with a soft, crumbly texture and a mildly sweet flavor. A traditional Ricotta is made from sheep's milk whey, most often remaining after making Pecorino Romano. Typicallly, whey cheeses are used mainly for cooking, such as savory dishes like lasagne or tomato and cheese tarts, as well as pasta fillings for gnocchi or ravioli. However, it can also be added to salads and served as a dessert cheese with fruit or baked in pastries.

To produce the fresh form of Ricotta, cheese makers skim the small white lumps off the top of the heated milk to create a pure white very soft, smooth to granular textured cheese, similar to cottage cheese. It is then packaged in round plastic containers for ease of handling and access. Firm Ricotta is produced by removing more moisture, such as occurs when making Rocotta Infornata, Romano and Salata Ricotta. Ricotta Infornata is a smoked version that has been baked and lightly browned. Ricotta Romano is a cheese typically made from sheep's milk. Ricotta Salata is a salted and dried cheese, providing a texture similar to feta cheese. Mild in taste, ricotta cheese is a good ingredient for use in adding texture to sweet foods as well as some savory dishes.

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