Fun Facts: Ricotta "Cheese"

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"The Ricotta Eaters" - Vincenzo Campi
Welcome to Fun Facts, a new recurring feature in which we share interesting food trivia that we've stumbled upon during our daily culinary adventures.

Ricotta cheese is not, technically, a cheese. So says cheese guru Steven Jenkins in his indispensable Cheese Primer, and Gut Check doesn't argue with gurus. Because it is made from whey, ricotta is a dairy product rather than a cheese.

Also: By eating ricotta, you're helping the environment. So says Jenkins:
Whey was, and still is, a problem. It is not disposable, because it fouls up sewers and rivers by increasing the growth of algae, which then deplete the water's oxygen supply, eventually killing the fish. Only in the last hundred years was it discovered that this limpid, low-fat nutritious liquid could be turned into a "cheese." When protein-rich whey is subjected to heat, the casein particles fuse together and create a new curd that, when drained, becomes snowy-white ricotta.
Now you know. And knowing, as a wise man once said, is half the battle.


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