just purchased some fresh ricotta and it has a grainy mouthfeel. I noticed on the label that it says "made with the curd or pasta" from the milk, as opposed to the whey. Could this have anything to do with it? It's disappointing.
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Is there contact information for the maker? Try contacting them with your question -- I think it doesn't sound right.
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Yes, ricotta should be made from the whey. If it's not it's not really ricotta in the traditional sense.
any idea why they would do this i.e. not use whey? They're a reputable specialty foods store in the area
Well, I went back to the store today and inquired about the ricotta at the cheese counter. It turns out they don't make it themselves, event though they put it in individual containers and slap there label on it. I found this disappointing and misleading. They also noted that all ricotta today is made from curd as opposed to whey. SOmething about the creaminess that comes from using the curd. Is there any truth to this?
Not in Italy. The name itself means "recooked."
Nancy is a food writer, historian, and author of many books, her most recent being Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin.
There is a fad in the U.S. for making "ricotta" from whole milk by adding lemon juice, or vinegar, or citric acid. The result should not be called ricotta; rather it's a fresh curd cheese (and not even really cheese, for that matter). If it's well-made, it can be very good, but I object to calling it ricotta since that word, ri-cotta, means re-cooked, and as you observed, it's the whey from cheese making, re-cooked to firm up all the remaining proteins in the liquid, a very different product, and when well made, warm from the cheese vat, fresh on the farm, it is an astoundingly good product. (Or even cold from the cheese-shop refrigerator.) It's also extremely useful in other preparations--herb-and-ricotta stuffed ravioli for instance. I think we should call things by their rightful names and insist on correct labeling for soft curd cheese and for true ricotta.
During cheese making curds rise to the top, separating, leaving the whey underneath. FACT: there are a variety of uses for the whey, AND…traditionally, ricotta is made by reheating the whey by-product from certain hard cheeses.
I grew up with farm fresh homemade ricotta thanks to my Italian grandmother and I was like a kid in a candy store, sneaking a taste whenever I got the chance…it was that good!
But a ricotta-like cheese can also be made by extracting curds from milk – now days a VERY popular method for many home cooks.
Years ago, on my own, I started making “the ricotta-like cheese” by extracting soft curds from a mixture of milk, buttermilk and citric, similar to recipes that can be found on Food52; it is a better tasting product than what I could buy at the store, but no comparison to what I grew up with.
BTW, I’ve never experienced a homemade ricotta-like cheese extracted - from milk whey to be “grainy,” as you experienced, nor have I ever had that happen with any commercial brands…they should give your money back. Sorry for your experience. Interested to know just what the heck happened.
Anyway, IMO, it isn’t every day the home cook is making their own hard cheese to have whey to “re-cook” and make what you can right on call Ricotta. So I don’t mind what anybody calls it…with one exception = if I pay extra $$ from a store selling what they call “ricotta” it better be what I am paying for, the real thing!
Thanks all! Clears up a lot of confusion. I generally won't ask for my money back at smaller stores, but I won't be buying it again from there in the future before asking for a sample. The part that bothered me more was the labeling (as I'm assuming the texture problem may have been a one time mishap). Do stores do this often: Sell products made elsewhere with their label? I suppose this happens with some prepared foods, too.
Ricotta is made from whey, but if you google "ricotta" most recipes have nothing to do with whey and in fact, recommend saving the whey that you end up with for another recipe. Most use whole milk and an acid like yogurt or vinegar or buttermilk(even on food52). It makes delicious cheese, but is not really ricotta in any traditional sense.