Ricotta cheese is one of the world’s favorite, thanks to its creamy-soft texture and fresh, almost sweet taste.
It’s flavor, so unlike strong and salty cheeses, makes it an excellent ingredient for all types of foods: Main dishes, soups, desserts, salads and much more can be achieved with this delicious ingredient, making it a must have in almost any kitchen.
Ricotta cheese is usually made with the leftover casein from other cheeses, making it a ‘recooked’ cheese that’s gone through extra fermentation.
While this fermentation gives it its soft texture and flavor, it also causes some questions to arise.
Is it safe to eat during pregnancy? Can you eat it if you’re lactose intolerant and, the most prevalent question of them all, is ricotta cheese pasteurized?
Well, keep reading to find out!
The Difference Between Pasteurized And Raw Milk Cheese
Before we answer your questions, let’s start with something more basic: The difference between pasteurized and raw milk cheese.
Raw Milk Cheese
Artisanal cheeses or cheeses that have been made on a small-scale in farms and the like are often made with raw milk.
Since the production is small, the cheese makers often have a huge amount of control over the quality of the milk and the resulting cheese; They’ll know exactly what cow’s milk went into making the cheese; they’ll be able to avoid using the milk of a disease cow, etc.
Because of this, small-scale cheese makers don’t have the need to pasteurize their cheese, as they know the quality of the milk used to create them.
On a large-scale operation, milk will be collected from various farms and pooled into large vats which will then be used to create cheeses.
Because the quality and cleanliness of the milk can’t be ensured, they need to reduce any disease risk as much as possible.
This is where pasteurization kicks in.
There are various ways to pasteurize milk but the end result is the same: Clean cheese produced on a large scale.
As you can see, the real difference between pasteurized and non-pasteurized milk and cheeses are the production scale, but as a general rule it’s safe to say that pasteurized cheeses are “cleaner” than raw milk cheeses, though that doesn’t mean the later aren’t safe to eat.
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Now we can tackle the main question:
Is Ricotta Cheese Pasteurized?
Long story short?
As long as you purchase it from a supermarket or a grocery store, your ricotta cheese will be pasteurized.
Most chain stores require pasteurized products to be sold in order to minimize any risks. That, coupled with the fact that any pasteurized cheese has the obligation to say so in the label, means that locating a pasteurized ricotta cheese will be super easy.
If you’re still not sure, simply ask the clerks or call the manufacturer, who will be able to solve all your doubts.
Still Not Sure?
We mentioned pregnancy up there and that’s because pregnant women are recommended to avoid non-pasteurized cheeses and when it comes to the health and well-being of a pregnant woman and an unborn baby, it pays to be cautious.
So, how can you make sure you don’t accidentally eat/purchase unpasteurized ricotta cheese?
As we mentioned before, raw milk cheese are often artisanal products produced on a small-scale. This means you have to actively look for them, either by going to the farms where they’re produced or by purchasing them in artisanal/organic stores in the city.
This means you’re unlikely to stumble onto unpasteurized ricotta cheese unless you’re looking for it, but you can do the following things to minimize the risk:
- Don’t make your own ricotta cheese at home: Sure, making ricotta cheese is fun and easy, but this way you’ll minimize any risks.
- Don’t eat ricotta cheese you haven’t purchased: This includes restaurant dishes, cheese tastings, pre-made desserts with ricotta in them, etc. Sure, the cheese might be pasteurized but you’re never sure.
- Stick to the big brands: The most well-known brands of cheeses are almost always pasteurized, thanks to the fact that they need to do it to ensure the cleanliness of their product. It’s safe to assume that all big brand cheeses are pasteurized but just in case…
- Always check the label: Pasteurized cheese always have the world pasteurized somewhere in the label, be it on the front in big letters or in the ingredient list. If you can’t find the word ‘pasteurized’ anywhere then try another brand.
And there you have it! That’s what you can do to make sure you’re always eating ricotta cheese.
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So, to recapitulate:
Ricotta cheese is almost always pasteurized unless you’re buying it from small farms or artisanal cheese makers; If you’re not sure where your cheese was made, all you need to do is check the label. If the label doesn’t say anything about pasteurization then your ricotta cheese isn’t pasteurized and you should proceed with caution.