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Sunday, January 25, 2015

History of ricotta cheese processing

Ricotta cheese is a soft, bland, semisweet cheese that originated in Italy. It is a whey cheese of the Mediterranean area, prepared traditionally by heating whey from sheep or goat milk in open kettle. Cheese production is one of the oldest forms of biotechnology, dating perhaps from 6000 BC and was well established during the era of the Roman Empire.

The Bronze Age milk boilers were elegantly designed to limit frothing and boiling, thus they appear to have been tailor made for producing acid/heat coagulated cheese from milk.

Milk boilers were ingenious ceramic vessels that were used to limit frothing and boiling over when heating milk to high temperatures during the making of acid/heat-coagulated (ricotta –type) cheeses.

The ancient Greeks created cheesecakes with ricotta cheeses as one of the main ingredients. The cheese was combined with wheat flour and honey and pounded to a paste-like and smooth consistency. During the first Olympic games that happened in Greece in 776 BC, the athletes ate cheesecakes which provide them with the energy they needed for several rigorous competition.

The gourmet Columella explained the curd-making process; the poet Varro summarized the digestibility of regional cheeses. Athenaeus, writing around 200 AD, admired Sicily’s ‘tender’ cheese, a possible reference to ricotta, which was made by boiling whey with whole sheep’s milk and straining the curds through a basket.

Originally, ricotta cheese was produced from whey derived from mozzarella or provolone cheese production, Ricotta now prepared from whole milk or without addition of whey.
History of ricotta cheese processing

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