En­joy now: ricotta

NZ House & Garden - - FOOD -

As cheeses go, ricotta is some­what bland; moist and del­i­cate, it usu­ally acts as a car­rier for other flavours while ad­ding a pleas­ant, light creami­ness with­out a fatty mouth-feel. Most of us buy ricotta in tubs but tra­di­tional or au­then­tic ricotta is a slightly dif­fer­ent prod­uct: firmer and with more flavour. In most cases it won’t mat­ter which style you use, tub or tra­di­tional, al­though when ricotta is the star in­gre­di­ent it’s worth pay­ing the ex­tra for “real” ricotta. Recipes that state “fresh ricotta” gen­er­ally im­ply that the real prod­uct will give best re­sults. If a tub is your only choice, it can be useful to tip the con­tents into a sieve lined with cloth and al­low any ex­cess liq­uid to drain off.

Ricotta lit­er­ally means re­cooked, re­fer­ring to how this Ital­ian-ori­gin cheese is tra­di­tion­ally made: by re­heat­ing the whey left over from pecorino pro­duc­tion.

Ricotta is from the fam­ily of soft, fresh cheeses (along with the likes of quark and pa­neer), which means it doesn’t keep well and should be eaten within about a week of be­ing made. Un­opened tub ricotta lasts longer be­cause it con­tains preser­va­tives.

Ricotta is one of the sim­plest cheeses to make at home. You can use whey left over from mak­ing an­other cheese (it doesn’t have to be pecorino) or sim­ply fresh milk – on­line tu­to­ri­als abound.

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