Ricotta is an Italian cheese with a delicate, creamy taste. Ricotta has found wide application in the kitchen – it suits both desserts and dry dishes. It is one of the least calorie cheeses, so it can be successfully consumed by people on a diet.
What is Ricotta?
Ricotta is a cheese originating in Sicily, whose properties and nutritional values were known around 1000 BC. It was then that cheese was produced using rennet, which resulted in whey being obtained, which became the basis for the production of ricotta.
Initially, ricotta, due to the short shelf life, was little known, so it was not available to the general public. Only shepherds who consumed cheese consumed it. In the following centuries, ricotta gained popularity and reached the tables of the aristocracy.
Ricotta cheese produced from Ricotta di Bufala Campana buffalo milk whey and Ricotta Romana sheep’s milk whey ricotta has been included in the list of protected designation of origin (PDO) products.
It is worth knowing that the name of the cheese means double cooking, which is subjected to whey, which is the basis for preparing ricotta.
Ricotta – health properties
Ricotta, compared to mozzarella or mascarpone, is low in calories (100 g provides 150 kcal). That is why ricotta is recommended for people on a diet of these three kinds of cheese.
Also, ricotta is a good source of wholesome protein, containing essential amino acids. Protein is an important building block of muscles. It participates in the regulation of gene expression and metabolic processes. Besides, it is part of enzyme systems, participates in oxygen transport and vision processes.
Ricotta is also a good source of calcium – an element that is necessary to maintain the durability and proper bone and tooth structure. In addition, it participates in the processes of muscle contractility, conduction of nerve stimuli. There is also a shortage of phosphorus and selenium in the ricotta cheese.
Ricotta contains a lot of vitamin B12, which has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the nervous system and is involved in the production of red blood cells. Ricotta is also a good source of vitamin B2, which is involved in metabolic processes. It is also necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system and vision.
Ricotta does not contain casein but is a low-lactose cheese, which is why people with a strong allergic reaction to lactose should not consume this cheese. People with whey protein intolerance should also opt out of ricotta.
Ricotta – use in the kitchen
Ricotta is a soft cheese with a grainy texture, creamy white colour and slightly sweet, delicate taste.
A delicious dessert can be made from ricotta. Ricotta is whipped and then added to it sugar, cinnamon, coconut and chocolate. The cheese prepared in this way is served with fruit. Ricotta is also a component of cheesecakes, cannoli and Easter cakes, so-called a pastoral worker.
Ricotta is also great as a pancake stuffing (both sweet and dry) and addition to sandwiches.
Ricotta – production method
Ricotta is obtained from buffalo, sheep, goat or cow’s milk whey and mixtures thereof. The whey used to make ricotta comes from the production of other cheeses, e.g. mozzarella.
The previously acidified whey is heated to a temperature of about 85 degrees Celsius, constantly stirring until the granules flow out onto the surface. This leads to protein denaturation and its precipitation. In this way, fine cottage cheese is obtained, which, after cooling, separates from the remaining liquid.
Sometimes whey is added to give the cheese a better taste. After separating the curd from the liquid part, the salted ricotta is dried and left for 2-4 weeks to mature.