This pure white, firm, rindless cheese originated in the hot, dry island climate of Sicily. Ricotta cheese is made from lightly salted cows’s milk curd that is pressed and dried, then aged for a minimum of three months. This cheese has a supple, mild taste. Ricotta cheese is an Italian whey cheese made from sheep, cow, goat, or water buffalo milk whey. Like other whey cheeses, it is made by coagulating the proteins that remain after the casein has been used to make cheese.
By tradition, Ricotta (literally meaning “recooked”) protein can be harvested if the whey is first allowed to become more acidic by additional fermentation. Then the acidified whey is heated to near boiling. The combination of low pH and high temperature denatures the protein and causes it to form a fine curd. Once cooled, it is separated by passing the liquid through a fine cloth, leaving the curd behind.
Creamy white in appearance, Ricotta curds are slightly sweet in taste. The fat content changes depending on the brand and the type of milk used. In this form, it is somewhat similar in texture to some cottage cheese variants, though considerably lighter. It is highly perishable. However, ricotta also is made in aged varieties which are preservable for much longer.