Inspired by the famous Italian cheese, Westcombe Ricotta is made to a unique British recipe at Westcombe Dairy in Somerset using mixed whey from their Westcombe Cheddar and Duckett's Caerphilly.
This very fresh cheese is creamy white in colour and has a soft, slightly grainy texture. Its full dairy flavour is mild and light, with a hint of both sweetness and salt. It can be eaten fresh or used for cooking sweet and savoury dishes.
- Cow's milk
- Animal rennet.
What's special about Westcombe Ricotta?
Westcombe Ricotta is made at Westcombe Dairy run by the cheese-making father and son team Richard and Tom Calver. Nestled in the heart of Somerset, the Dairy has its own herd of 350 cows, producing flavoursome raw milk which is used to make its flagship Cheddar and also Duckett's Caerphilly. Clare visited Westcombe Dairy back in April 2019. Read her blog to discover more about the Dairy and how it’s Cheddar is made and matured using Britain's first cheese-turning robot.
Westcombe Dairy started making its Ricotta in 2011, putting the mixed whey from production of their other cheeses to good use. In Britain, whey is typically wasted, being run off cheese vats straight into a drain, although it may be used for pig feed if there is a local herd to which it can be delivered. Westcombe Ricotta is made from whey that would otherwise be wasted.
Ricotta is a traditional Italian whey cheese that dates back to the Bronze Age. Its name translates to "re-cooked" referring to the re-heating of whey to high temperatures during its make process. Whey contains some residual milk proteins, namely albumin and globulin, which can be coagulated to form a fine curd. First the whey is gently acidified at room temperature with the addition of vinegar or lemon juice. The acidified whey is then heated to near boiling point, around 90 degrees at Westcombe Dairy, to bring about binding of the whey proteins. At Westcombe, this Ricotta curd is then salted and ladled by hand into individual basket moulds. Gentle hand ladling keeps the texture of the curd light and delicate. In baskets the cheese is chilled and left overnight to settle and drain before being packaged for sale. This fresh Ricotta is highly perishable with a short shelf life so it is quickly dispatched to retailers such as Slate.
Ricotta can be eaten fresh, the perfect taste of summer when used in a salad. It works well with a drizzle of honey, and alongside fruit such as ripe melon and summer berries. It is also a very versatile cheese for cooking, appearing in many savoury pasta, risotto and pizza dishes and also in sweet Italian recipes including cheesecake and cannoli filling. It pairs well with a light, crisp white wine - a Sauvignon or Chenin Blanc.