Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO is a product obtained through the processing of the “first whey” (sweet) obtained in the cheese-making process of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO, which uses milk from the Mediterranea Italiana buffalo breed.
The “first whey” is sent to the boilers to be heated, either immediately or after the stabilising treatment. Buffalo milk and/or fresh cream can be added before or during the heating process. The heat determines the formation of soft and fine curd, which surfaces thanks to the presence of fat. The ricotta can be separated by hand with a perforated spoon, putting the wet curd into molds or cloths, or mechanically with special extractors. The product is immediately cooled; once it is removed it acquires its definitive consistency. The product must be packaged within 24 hours of production, before or after it has been cooled down to 4°C. Fresh Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO can be conserved for up to seven days after it is produced. In order to guarantee that the product can be conserved for up to 21 days, the ricotta, drained from the whey, must undergo heat treatment; it is then smoothed and homogenised to make it creamier. In this case, the product is marketed as Freshly homogenised Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO.
Appearance and Flavour
Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO can either have a truncated pyramid or cone shape and weighs between 2 kg and 40 kg. The ricotta is porcelain white in colour, rindless, with a grainy but not sandy consistency that is soft and creamy. The flavour is characteristic, fresh and slightly sweet, whilst the aroma is reminiscent of milk and cream.
The production area of Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO is within the provinces of Benevento, Caserta, Naples and Salerno in the Campania region; the provinces of Frosinone, Latina and Rome in the Lazio region; the Province of Foggia in the Apulia region and Isernia in the Molise region.
Since the arrival of buffalo in Southern Italy in the XVI century, the production of Ricotta di Bufala Campana and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana has been very closely linked. One of the first mentions of ricotta cheese can be found in a cookbook written by Bartolomeo Scappi, cook at the Papal Court, in 1570. More detailed descriptions can be found in an essay by Achille Bruni from 1859, Del latte e dei suoi derivati. Today it is the object of renewed interest and valorisation.
Fresh Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO can be stored for a maximum of seven days at a temperature of 4-5°C, whereas the Fresh homogenised ricotta can be conserved for up to 21 days. It can be eaten on its own or used as an ingredient in many recipes and stuffed dishes. The product is generally used to prepare local sweet and savoury dishes from the Neapolitan cuisine. Amongst the most famous recipes, there is the Pastiera Napoletana, a typical Easter cake.
The product is marketed as Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO Fresh and Fresh homogenised. It is sold year-round packaged in paper, heat-sealed plastic boxes or other food packaging. Packets with a maximum weight of 2 kg can be supplied to retail stores and up to 40 kg for the processed food industry.
Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO is different from other ricotta cheeses due to its creamy consistency, softness, colour and sweet milky aromas, characteristics which are given to the fact that buffalo whey is richer in fats and free from lipase, an enzyme that can influence the sensory properties of fat.