ingredient information
Cheese Ricotta Part Skim
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Ricotta is an Italian sheep milk or cow milk whey cheese. Ricotta lit. 'recooked' uses the whey, a limpid, low-fat, nutritious liquid that is a by-product of cheese production. Ricotta is produced from whey, the liquid separated out from the curds when cheese is made. Most of the milk protein (especially casein) is removed when cheese is made, but some protein remains in the whey, mostly albumin. This remaining protein can be harvested if the whey is first allowed to become more acidic by additional fermentation (by letting it sit for 12–24 hours at room temperature). Then the acidified whey is heated to near boiling. The combination of low pH and high temperature causes additional protein to precipitate out, forming a fine curd. Once cooled, the curd is separated by passing though a fine cloth. After realizing that whey cannot be safely dumped in large concentrations as it creates an environmental nuisance, Romano makers discovered that when the protein-rich substance is heated, whey protein particles fuse and create a curd. This curd, after drainage, is ricotta. Because ricotta is made from whey, rather than milk, it is a whey cheese, not technically a "cheese". Ricotta is a fresh cheese (as opposed to ripened or aged), grainy and creamy white in appearance, slightly sweet in taste, and contains around 13% fat. In this form, it is somewhat similar in texture to some cottage cheese variants, though considerably lighter. Like many fresh cheeses, it is highly perishable. Ricotta comes in other forms as well, see variants below. Traditional, creamery, whey cheese made from cow's milk. It is a basin-shaped cheese, pure white and wet but not sticky. Good Ricotta should be firm, not solid and consist of a mass of fine, moist, delicate grains, neither salted nor ripened. It is white, creamy and mild and is primarily used as an ingredient in lasagna. It is primarily made with cow's milk whey which is heated to 170 degrees F. Citric acid is added to encourage destabilization and separation and the temperature is quickly raised to 185 degrees F. Proteins from the whey separate rise and coagulate; the proteins (lactalbumin) are skimmed off and put in a wicker basket to drain for two days after which the "cheese" is ready for market. There are three distinct varieties of ricotta: ricotta salata moliterna (ewe's milk whey), ricotta piemontese (cow's milk whey + 10% milk) and ricotta romana (a byproduct of Romano cheese production).