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One of Italy's Greatest Dairy Inventions

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Discover the Delights of Ricotta: Italy’s Creamy Treasure

This week, we’re spotlighting one of Italy’s greatest culinary inventions. Originally created as a by-product, it has become one of the most versatile and essential ingredients in Italian cuisine. It’s white, fresh, creamy, and absolutely delicious. Have you guessed it yet?

Yes, it’s ricotta! Dive into our latest video as we explore the history, traditions, science, and recipes of this fabulous foodstuff.

What It’s Used For

Thanks to its milky flavor and creamy texture, ricotta is a staple in a variety of Italian recipes, both sweet and savory. Italians use it in ravioli fillings, pasta sauces, and ricotta gnocchi, which offer a light, fresh alternative to the classic potato version. Ricotta also features in numerous cakes, tarts, mousses, and pies, showcasing its adaptable nature. Enjoy it on its own with honey or jam, or spread on fresh, warm bread.

Ricotta exemplifies the Italian tradition of not wasting food, being made from the leftover curds in cheese making. This aligns with Italy’s culinary culture of recycling and reusing leftovers, like using stale bread for salads, soups, and meatballs, or transforming leftover grape skins from winemaking into grappa.

Although mild in flavor, ricotta’s taste varies depending on the milk used. Cow milk ricotta has a delicate flavor, while sheep or goat milk imparts a stronger taste.

 What Is Ricotta?

Despite often being referred to as ricotta cheese, ricotta is technically a dairy product, not a cheese. It’s a by-product of the cheese-making process. When making cheese, milk is heated until the curds separate from the whey. After forming and removing the cheese, the remaining whey contains small flakes of curd. Reheating this liquid causes the curd flakes to clot and form ricotta. This reheating process gives ricotta its name, which means ‘recooked’ in Italian.

The Recipe and Italian Cooking Course

Ricotta is used in many dishes, but one recipe holds a special place in our hearts. As children, we visited our grandmother in the mountains, where she bought fresh ricotta from a local shepherd. She would prepare a small bowl of ricotta, pour espresso coffee over it, and sprinkle it with a little sugar. Since we weren’t allowed to drink coffee as kids, this was a special treat. Even today, we nostalgically prepare this dish for breakfast or dessert.

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