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Ricotta Cheese Recipes and Cooking Tips

Ricotta cheese has a short shelf-life

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Mention ricotta cheese and the first thing to come to mind is probably a classic Italian lasagna. Ricotta works well in many desserts as well as savory dishes. Learn about ricotta, and get some cooking tips before delving into the ricotta cheese recipes.

What is ricotta cheese?

Technically, ricotta is not a cheese at all, but a cheese by-product. Its name, ricotta, means cooked again, an obvious reference to the production method used to make it.

Ricotta is made from the whey drained from such cheeses as mozzarella, provolone, and other cheeses. American ricotta is generally made with a combination of whey and whole, low-fat, or skim cow's milk.

Ricotta is a fresh, soft, snowy white cheese with a rich but mild, slightly sweet flavor. The texture is much like a grainy, thick sour cream. Ricotta is naturally low in fat, with a fat content ranging from 4 to 10 percent. It is also low in salt, even lower than cottage cheese. Since ricotta is made primarily from lactose-rich whey, it should be avoided by those who are lactose-intolerant.

Unrelated to soft ricotta, ricotta salada is made of sheep's milk. The liquid is pressed out and the solids are compacted into rounds, enabling it to be cut with a knife. Its texture is a crumbly but firm.

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