Ricotta, at your service

Ricotta, is everywhere. That creamy center of your lasagna? Ricotta. What's baking in your manicotti? Again, ricotta. What's filling your cannoli, topping your salad greens, or making your pound cake so luscious and velvety? Ricotta, ricotta and – wait for it – ricotta! Is there anything this fresh-as-morning-dew cheese can't do?

It's hard to imagine a life without this light and fluffy, jack-of-all-cheeses that was first made by the Italians from leftover whey. But luckily, thanks to Wisconsin cheesemakers, there's always plenty of world-class ricotta to go around. So, carry on, home chefs: do with ricotta what you will.

Gotta ricotta? Do try this at home.

Ricotta is the most forgiving of cheeses – it's almost impossible to make a ricotta mistake. It loves to be stuffed in shells and smothered in red sauce, or mixed with parmesan, herbs, and basil for a spreadable cheese delight. Put ricotta on a cheese board with sun-dried tomatoes, figs, and fresh blueberries; and the whole room is happy. You can press it into cheese balls and fry it, or bake ricotta with garlic and thyme for a warm cheese dip on a chilly night.

When it's time for some wine and cheese, ricotta goes great with bubbly, effervescent varieties. Try white or pink vinho verde, off-dry prosecco, cava, or pinot grigio. If you prefer a beer, then pilsner, Kolsch, and citrusy fruit beers are right down ricotta's alley.

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FAQs: What is ricotta?

What is ricotta?

Ricotta is a fresh Italian cheese that is traditionally made with the leftover whey from sheep, cow, goat or water buffalo milk, that is used to make other cheeses. Ricotta has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a soft, springy texture with fine, delicate granules of cheese curd. Ricotta's mild flavor makes it a natural for both sweet and savory dishes, and it is a staple of traditional Italian cooking.

How is ricotta made?

Ricotta (which means "re-cooked") is made by taking the whey (milk liquids) left over from other cheesemaking processes and allowing it to ferment for a period of time at lukewarm temperatures. It's then heated until nearly boiling, which causes any residual protein in the whey to solidify into curds. The mixture is then strained through a cheesecloth, to remove excess moisture. The result - a fresh cheese made of fine granules of cheese curd.

What's the difference between ricotta and ricotta salata?

While ricotta is highly perishable and should be consumed fresh, it can also be salted, pressed into a wheel and allowed to age for several months. This version is called ricotta salata, meaning "salted ricotta." Ricotta salata has a saltier taste while still being creamy. It can be grated, crumbled or carefully sliced.

We do a lot of ricotta in Wisconsin

While ricotta is Italian born, it's produced all over the world today. And in our humble opinion, no one does it better than Wisconsin.

Then again, we think no one does any cheese better than our Wisconsin cheesemakers – and we've a mile-long mantle full of 5,552 awards to prove it. That's what happens when a whole state is dedicated to one thing: making the tastiest, most award-winning, highest-quality cheese in this world, or any other. The rolling hills and fertile farmlands of Wisconsin have been the home to cheesemakers for over 175 years, even before we were a state.

So, when you want to get your hands and your taste buds on lightest, freshest ricotta you can find, you'll always find a warm welcome, a hearty helping, and a napkin right here in the great State of Cheese.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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