Ricotta: A Cheese To Celebrate

April 04 2022 – That's Amore Cheese

Ricotta: A Cheese To Celebrate

Ricotta: A Cheese To Celebrate

Ricotta is a creamy, fluffy and fresh cheese which comes from the Italian word for 're-cooked'. It is often referred to as 'whey cheese' and is one of the most versatile culinary ingredients with a multitude of ways to be eaten: by itself, with fresh fruit, baked into sweet cakes or incorporated into savoury dishes. What is ricotta anywhey?

Let's get into the details:

 

How is ricotta made?

Traditional ricotta cheese is made using whey leftover from cheesemaking and it is a wonderful way to reuse whey that might normally be discarded. The first step is to heat the whey to 60 degrees while constantly stirring, then add a little bit of milk and bring it to 90 degrees. When the mixture is heated, this regulates the acidity which causes the whey proteins to destabilise and the ricotta will float up to the surface. The ricotta is then scooped out into baskets.

 
Where did Ricotta originate?

It is a dish with an ancient history but its preparation has remained unchanged over time. The origin is uncertain but seems to have appeared around 2000BCE, thanks to Sumerian cattle breeding techniques. The knowledge of these new techniques reached Egypt, where the “ricotta” starts to be sold to Greek sailors who for the first time have something fresh to eat while sailing back to Greece. Thanks to the connections between Greece, the Middle East and Western Asia (known as Mesopotamia), Ricotta reached Sicily, its first appearance in Italy. In the Sicilian dialect, the word for Ricotta is zammatàru which translates in 'dairy farmer'.
 

What is the best way to eat and use ricotta?

As mentioned earlier, Ricotta is incredibly versatile due its consistency and neutral flavour so it can generally be used for both sweet and savoury recipes. Ricotta is delicious spread on a piece of toast, or with fresh berries, however, if you feel like cooking and challenge yourself a bit more there are different recipes you can make.

Most of the Italian dishes with Ricotta come from Sicily, such Cannoli and Cassata Siciliana, two of the most delicious Italian desserts. Cassata Siciliana is a mix of ingredients including lemons, almonds and sheep ricotta. It was invented in Sicily but with the influence of the Middle East that imported those ingredients when they arrived in the Italian Peninsula. Other recipes are to die for such Pasta alla Norma, or Torta salata with Ricotta and Spinach.

We put together a few recipes that could inspire you: Ricotta Recipes

Trip to Italy, anyone?

Sicily is one of the most fascinating regions in Italy, maybe because its an island or maybe because of the variety of landscapes or just maybe because the delicious cheese you can find in every corner. Plenty of history and things to do but our shout out goes to Vizzini. A town that inspired us to organise the only Ricotta Festival held in Australia, at That’s Amore Cheese. The village of Vizzini, birthplace of Giovanni Verga, attracts people from all over the world for its Sagra della Ricotta e del formaggio who has been running for almost 5 decades and if you are in Italy during that time, stopping by in Vizzini during the Festival will not leave you disappointed.

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