Why You Should Strain Store-Bought Ricotta Before Using It In Baked Goods

Ricotta is a secret weapon in baking for providing an addictive creamy texture in deliciously balanced treats. You can use ricotta as a tasty filling or mix it directly into batters for an added tanginess in your desserts. However, if you're using a store-bought ricotta, you should take a few extra steps to guarantee your dishes have the best texture and flavor. American-made ricotta is a little different than Italian ricotta. The ricotta you'll find at your local grocery store is typically made with milk and some additives, which results in a higher moisture product.

You can remove some of this excess moisture by straining your ricotta. If you fail to strain the ricotta properly, excess moisture will find its way into your dish and risk making your baked goods soggy. Cakes and crusts struggle to hold up to the heaviness of the moisture from the cheese. Straining also makes it thicker, creamier, and more potent in flavor. Of course, you can always bypass this by trying your hand at making homemade ricotta. Some recipes, like this cannoli cupcake from Tasting Table, call directly for the strained ricotta. But if your recipe doesn't call for it, it's still wise to strain it anyway.

The best way to strain ricotta

There are different levels to straining your ricotta. In general, the longer you can strain it, the better. If you're strapped for time, drain it like a can of beans and pour out the excess liquid. But if you have the time, you should strain it properly. To properly strain ricotta, you'll need cheesecloths, a fine strainer, and a bowl. Line your strainer with the cheesecloth and evenly spread your ricotta over the cloth and strainer. Leave this over a bowl for as long as eight hours or as little as 30 minutes.

After you've spread it, you can gently push down on the ricotta to press out more moisture. If you have the resources, you can cover your ricotta and lay a heavy object on it to press it even more. Store your straining ricotta in the refrigerator as it drains. The longer you leave it, the more moisture you remove. Once you've strained your ricotta, use it as directed in the recipe. You don't need to save the excess liquid. You should store it in an airtight container if you have any leftover, opened ricotta will last between five to seven days. There are so many recipes that use rich ricotta, and when strained these dishes are just that much better.