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Ricotta Cheese is a creamy, spoonable fresh curd made from the leftover whey from the Mozzarella and Provolone cheesemaking processes. The word Ricotta means "re-cooked" in Italian, a reference to the way the cheese is produced. Ricotta Cheese is can be made from the whey of buffalo, sheep, cow or goat's milk. Ricotta is believed to have originated in Sicily or Rome and is first referenced in the writings of Greek author Athenaeus as early as the 2nd century. Ricotta was an important export for Sicily, where it was made with sheep's or goat's milk and was featured prominently in their desserts such as Ricotta pancake cassola, an ancient version of cheesecake.
Ricotta is made from whey, the low-fat watery liquid that is a by-product of the cheesemaking process. The protein in whey solidifies under high heat and is skimmed off and once drained, the curds turn into Ricotta Cheese. Ricotta is a fresh perishable cheese that is creamy white in color with a slight sweetness. In this form, Ricotta resembles cottage cheese, but their textures are not the same. Cottage cheese is creamy with curds, while Ricotta is drier and with more of a grainy texture.
Ricotta Cheese is also available in the form of Ricotta Salata, which is the salted, dried and aged form of Ricotta. Ricotta Salata is firm, bright white in color and rindless. It has a nutty, sweet and milky flavor and is perfect for grating or as a topper for pastas and salads. A similar cheese to Italian Ricotta Salata is Greek Myzithra. Popular in Sardinia and Sicily, Ricotta Infornata is made by baking Ricotta until it forms a toasted brown crust. Made in the Puglia region of Italy, Ricotta Forte, also called Ricotta Scanta, is a pungent aromatic cheese that has the consistency of cream cheese.
Fresh Ricotta is a very versatile cheese and is a popular spread for toast as a butter alternative. It is also commonly used as a filling in many Italian desserts, such as cheesecakes, cannoli, blintzes and cookies. Ricotta is an equally important ingredient in savory dishes such as lasagna, ravioli, manicotti, calzone, and pizza. Fresh Ricotta also blends well with tomato based sauces by adding a neutral flavor and a creamy thickness.
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- Ricotta Salata
- Fresh Ricotta by Maplebrook Farms
- Fresh Ricotta Con Latte by BelGioioso