Ricotta facts for kids

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Ricotta
Ricotta dome on plate from the top.jpg
Country of origin Italy
Source of milk Sheep, cows, goats, or Italian water buffalo
Texture Dependent on variety, fresh soft to aged semisoft
Aging time None or up to a year for aged varieties
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Ricotta is an Italian fresh whey cheese made from the whey of sheep's milk or cow's milk. Whey is a watery liquid that separates from curds when cheese is made. Ricotta is soft, grainy and white. It can be used in Italian desserts like cheesecake or cannoli. It contains protein and is a dairy product.

Common culinary uses

Like mascarpone in northern Italian cuisine, ricotta is a favorite component of many Italian desserts, such as cheesecakes and cannoli. Also, a variety of different cookies include ricotta as an ingredient.

Ricotta can be beaten smooth and mixed with condiments, such as sugar, cinnamon, orange flower water, strawberries, and occasionally chocolate shavings, and served as a dessert. This basic combination (often with additions such as citrus and pistachios) also features prominently as the filling of the Sicilian cannoli and layered with slices of cake in Palermo's cassata.

Combined with eggs and cooked grains, then baked firm, ricotta is also a main ingredient in Neapolitan pastiera, one of Italy's many "Easter pies".

Ricotta is also commonly used in savory dishes, including pasta, calzone, stromboli, pizza, manicotti, lasagne, and ravioli.

It also is used as a mayonnaise substitute in traditional egg or tuna salad and as a sauce thickener.

Local ricotta is dried in the sun and made into a hard, chewy tablet called chhurpi in Himalayan areas, notably in Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and parts of Nepal. The fresh, soft chhurpi is the main ingredient in the Bhutanese national dish of ema datshi.

It is often used as a substitute for paneer or chena (though the two are not identical) in the Indian dessert known as ras malai. However, paneer is mostly casein protein, similar to cottage cheese, while ricotta is made of all whey protein.

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Ricotta Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.