Ricotta is a type of Italian whey cheese. Though seen as cheese, it is actually a creamy curd. The way it is made is that it is double-cooked and hence it is called ricotta. The word ricotta is derived from the Latin word recocta which means re-cooked or twice cooked. 

It may resemble but is less grainy and smoother than cottage cheese. Italian ricottas are mostly made from the whey that drains from full-fat milk when making cheese such as provolone and mozzarella. Most cheese producers can make ricotta as it is just made from its by-product. The idea of using whey to make ricotta is that nothing in an Italian kitchen should go to waste. 

But strangely enough, ricotta isn’t actually from Sicily and finds its roots with the Arabs around the time they captured the region. The production of ricotta goes back to the bronze age, in fact, the ancient Roman too, claimed to have made ricotta. It was much more commonly consumed by shepherds who had excess whey and used it. Though soon enough it also became popular with the aristocrats and became a nobility ingredient. 

Even today, a good ball of ricotta was very expensive with the flavoured and fermented varieties being even costlier. 

Some tips if you are looking to buy ricotta:

  1. Ricotta unlike other Italian cheeses is not seasonal.

  2. Good ricotta is generally firm but quite solid. It will consist of curds which maybe but ensure that they are not salted or ripened.

  3. Ricotta Salda is different from regular ricotta and is made from sheep’s milk. They will be combated into rounds and look much like mozzarella. 

Ricotta pairs well with:

  1. Sweet foods like chocolate, berries, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, etc.

  2. Savoury foods like almonds, pine nuts, cloves, lemon, garlic, spinach, tomatoes, nutmeg, nut peppers, etc.