Ricotta is a whey cheese, made from cow or sheep milk, and more rarely from goat milk. Ricotta originated in Italy and Malta. It is not protected by any designation of origin labels. The name ricotta is in the public domain and there are no specifications controlling its production. It can therefore vary in composition between one producer and another. Whatever the case, ricotta cheese almost always has a fresh and slightly salty flavor.
Ricotta cheese is available throughout the year, although summer is the ideal time for this product. Ricotta cheese is found in the cheese sections of supermarkets and at specialty cheese stores, but also in Italian grocery stores. It is normally sold in tubs or in basket-shaped molds.
Ricotta is a fresh cheese that withstands heat. It is used in savory and sweet tarts and in sauces.
Ricotta cheese is a star ingredient of Italian cuisine. It is found in cannelloni, ravioli, and sometimes lasagna fillings. It can also be used as a substitute for cream in certain cakes. Finally, it can also be eaten plain, with only a little seasoning, like fromage frais. Ricotta cheese is a popular ingredient in Maltese cuisine, where it is used in pies and pastries. Ricotta cheese combines particularly well with spinach.
Ricotta cheese can be kept for several days in the refrigerator in its original packaging.
Ricotta cheese is relatively low in fat.
Ricotta cheese, in general, is not protected by any quality labels, and there are many varieties available. However, there are two varieties that enjoy Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status: Ricotta Romana (made from sheep milk) and Ricotta di Bufala Campana (made from buffalo milk). Smoked ricotta is also found in the Italian region of Calabria. In Malta, ricotta cheese is typically made from goat cheese.